Allen Park — It's been an unquestionably difficult offseason for the Stafford family.
Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew, underwent a 12-hour surgery last month to remove an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous brain tumor that had been impacting her balance for several months.
Kelly has been keeping people updated on her recovery through social media updates, and in his first comments since the surgery, Matthew confirmed things are progressing as well as could be expected.
"She’s doing good," Stafford said in an interview with WJR. "I think she’s right where the doctors want her to be at this point in her recovery. But we appreciate everyone’s well-wishes, thoughts, prayers, all that. People have been really supportive, and I know she and I both really appreciate it.
"I’m a little more used to people from all over being involved or knowing what’s going on in our life. I think for her, it was awesome and I know she leaned on it a lot."
Matthew Stafford has been back at work the past few weeks, taking part in the early stages of the team's offseason program. He acknowledged football has been a welcome distraction from the more weighty issues his family has faced this offseason.
"Yeah, no doubt," Stafford said. "It’s great to be back, working with the guys. Obviously, meeting a bunch of new teammates. We got a bunch of really good players through free agency and then some young guys we just picked up in the draft who are trying to make a name for themselves. Every year is a different year, a new team and a bunch of new guys to get to know and try to be as good as we possibly can. That’s part of what makes this game so fun."
In addition to meeting his new teammates — a group that includes tight end T.J. Hockenson, the team's first-round draft pick — Stafford is also picking up another playbook.
Darrell Bevell is the fourth offensive coordinator Stafford will play under in Detroit, and the quarterback said Bevell's system is a big change from the one ran by former coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
"It is way different," Stafford said. "It’s kind of like learning a new language. It really is. ... But it’s been good. I think guys are really diving in and he does a good job of teaching it."
Stafford said more than time, it's experience that will lead to a comfort level with the new playbook.
"It takes reps, it’s not so much time," he said. "Obviously, you get a ton of work in practice. The way we practice here, it’s high intensity all the time. It’s game-like situations, as much as we can possibly do it and that really helps us."
The Lions will conduct their first OTA practices next week, leading into mandatory minicamp early next month and the opening of training camp at the end of July.