Lions' Matthew Stafford insists his back not a lingering concern

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford says no need to worry — he isn't injured. 

Stafford hasn't played this preseason, and he's even been given a couple days off from practicing, but it has nothing to do with the back injury he suffered at the end of last season. 

Stafford confirmed he's feeling good prior to Monday's practice and said there's no lingering issues from last season. He also noted he didn't require surgery to address the issue and hasn't even needed to adjust his workout routine to address the previous injury. 

Matthew Stafford

"I do a little core routine," Stafford said. "It’s nothing too crazy."

There's understandable curiosity surrounding the franchise quarterback this offseason, following his sub-par performance in 2018, when he had the fewest yards he's thrown for in a full season and his fewest touchdown total in six years. Combine that with the introduction of a new offensive scheme, and Stafford's ability to rebound in his 11th professional season is one of the biggest question marks entering the year. 

"I said it earlier, when they tell me to go play, I’m going to go play," Stafford said. "I’ve played a lot of football. Obviously, I love playing, so anytime we go out there and practice, I’m itching to go out there and play. But whenever coach lets me, or tells me, I’m going to go out there and play."

The idea with not playing in the preseason is that Stafford got much of the work he needs during the joint practices with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. After Saturday's preseason game with the Houston Texans, Lions coach Matt Patricia said the team gets far more scheme-specific work in those practices.

Stafford agreed.  

"Schematically, yeah, I think most teams that are doing joint practices are probably doing more in practices than in the games," he said. "There’s a fine line in the preseason, that you want to make sure you’re practicing all your stuff, but you also don’t want to be just laying it all out there and letting everyone prepare for you. So those practices are really good opportunities to compete against other guys and run some of your stuff."

The other benefit of focusing on the practices is the Lions can control the situations. In a game, especially if Stafford is limited to playing just a series or two, he might not get snaps in the red zone or during a two-minute drill. 

"Oh, we probably lead the league in forced situations in practice," Stafford said. "We’re in two-point plays in the middle of practice, we’re (running a) two-minute (drive), here’s a random fourth-and-8 where you’ve got to throw it in there no matter what, all that kind of stuff. We’re put in situations all over the place, at any given moment in practice and it’s good to practice it and force yourself to be aware of those situation when they come up."

The Lions continue preseason play on Friday night at Ford Field against the Buffalo Bills. The third preseason game is traditionally considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season, but to this point, Patricia hasn't committed to playing Stafford.