| Detroit Free Press
Do Detroit Lions have any good reason to start Matthew Stafford again?
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Free Press’ reporters who cover the Detroit Lions, debate if the team should start Matthew Stafford again this year.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
Update: Frank Ragnow has been downgraded to “out” for Sunday’s game.
Darrell Bevell saw it up close with Brett Favre, the Hall of Fame Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings quarterback who was occasionally too hurt to practice but somehow willed himself onto the field for games.
That’s why Bevell said Friday that Matthew Stafford will travel to Tennessee this week for Sunday’s game against the Titans, and the Detroit Lions could take the decision on whether their starting quarterback plays all the way up until 90 minutes before kickoff.
“Both of those guys, they love the game,” Bevell, the Lions’ interim coach, said. “They love being out there with their teammates. They miss it when they’re not able to be out there. They feel like – it’s one of those things where you literally feel like you’re letting people down if you don’t go out there. So I have to give it to the guy. … I’m not putting him past it.”
Stafford is one of three Lions starters listed as questionable for Sunday, along with center Frank Ragnow and defensive tackle John Penisini.
Ragnow, who fractured his throat cartilage in last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, was visiting a specialist Friday who was to determine whether it is safe enough for him to play.
Stafford has a painful rib cartilage injury, but Bevell said the 12th-year quarterback was feeling better Friday, when he sat out practice for the third straight day.
“Just to be clear, we’re not going to let the guy go out there if he’s in a state where he can’t protect himself and is going to be a detriment to him,” Bevell said. “But a lot of these things are like, ‘How can you manage the pain? Can you play and function with it?’ I’ve seen it like, from Favre’s broken thumb to his MCL, all those kinds of things, and here goes Matthew. You guys have seen it. You guys have covered this team way longer than I’ve been here and you know what he’s done and what he’s played through.”
Stafford played the end of the 2018 season with fractured bones in his back and has played the second half of this year with a right thumb injury that has limited him in practice.
If he cannot play Sunday, Chase Daniel is expected to start at quarterback.
“This may or may not be a workout situation,” Bevell said. “I mean, obviously the conversation and what he’s doing kind of on the side before we even get that far. But if we need to have a workout on Sunday morning then we’ll end up doing that as well.”
Bevell said Stafford’s breathing is not an issue and “he’s moving better.”
“He’s feeling better,” Bevell said. “Like I said, you really can’t judge this because the guy is as tough as nails and he may come on Sunday – I’ve had it before. Favre was out 10 straight weeks, he was going to be out again, and he walks in the day of the game and says, ‘I’m going.’ Guys like that, you give it to them, and they go. I feel like (Stafford is) in that same category. He could walk in Sunday and say, ‘I don’t care what anyone (is) saying. I’m going.’ So, I’m going to let him go.”
As for Ragnow, Bevell said the Lions (5-8) should know his status by Saturday.
If Ragnow cannot play, the Lions could shuffle personnel on their offensive line, moving left guard Jonah Jackson to center and starting Joe Dahl at guard.
Right tackle Tyrell Crosby (ankle), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip), defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) and cornerback Darryl Roberts (hip) are out for Sunday.
The Lions are expected to activate Halapoulivaati Vaitai off injured reserve to play tackle.