Lions' Stafford trying to take smart approach with veteran rest days

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Houston — Matthew Stafford knows he isn’t getting any younger. At 31, and entering his 11th season, he understands his body doesn’t recover quite as quickly as it used to from the physical demands the game of football puts on it.

So when coach Matt Patricia presented Stafford an opportunity to take a few days off in the middle of training camp, with his long-term durability being the focus, the Detroit Lions quarterback acquiesced to the idea, even if down time goes against everything he’s ever known.

“Yeah, it’s not easy for me, but it’s probably good for me in the long run,” Stafford said after the team’s first joint practice with the Houston Texans on Wednesday. “It’s something coach (Matt) Patricia and I talked about and it’s probably the right thing to do. It was good, gives me a little bit of perspective, let’s me coach the guys a little bit more on the sideline, but it’s not easy, as a competitor, to sit out.

"I just think it’s smart when you have chances to kind of take care of yourself and try to make sure you’re feeling as fresh as you possibly can," he said. "Obviously had a couple hard weeks (of practice) there, there was kind of a little bit of break in the action there for a couple days, then two quick ones at home, so we were like, might as well do it."

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Lions coach Matt Patricia was asked again on Wednesday if Matthew Stafford would make his season debut in game action on Friday night at Ford Field. Once again, there was no clear answer.

A younger Stafford would have scoffed at the idea of taking time off, let alone a stretch of four days in a row. But not now. 

“I’m not 21 anymore, so it’s probably pretty good if you find a place in the schedule where you find you can get some rest and just kind of feel fresh again,” Stafford said.

Stafford has taken a beating the past few years, but has managed to play through various injuries, extending his consecutive start streak to 128 in the process. Physically, there’s nothing currently bothering the quarterback. He took all the first-team reps on Wednesday. Outside of joking about dropping 10 pounds due to the oppressive Texas heat, he said he’s feeling good.

It remains unclear whether Stafford will play in the second preseason game on Saturday night, but if last season is a valid barometer, he’s probably in line to play two or three series. Whatever the snap count he’s allotted, the focus will be on staying healthy and executing the play calls.

To this point in camp, the offense’s execution has been up-and-down as the unit adjusts to new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme. Defensive backs have seemed to get hands on more of Stafford's passes than usual, including an interception by Houston safety Justin Reid near the end of Wednesday’s practice.

Overall, Stafford isn’t concerned about the offense or his progress within the scheme.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It’s obviously a little bit of different feel than offenses in the past, as every one of them is, but I feel good about it.”

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers