Allen Park — Matthew Stafford is feeling good. After missing the final eight games of the 2019 season, the Detroit Lions quarterback feels rested and confident he'll be ready for the start of the offseason program in the spring.
"Oh yeah, I'll be good to go," Stafford said. "I feel really good, which is good. I've had quite a bit of rest, obviously. I think I'll be feeling really, really good pretty darn soon, to tell you the truth."
Stafford had started 136 games over the past nine years before a back injury sidelined him starting in Week 9. It has been reported he is dealing with tiny fractures in the thoracic region of his spine.
It's the second consecutive season Stafford ended the year with a back injury. The previous season, he was reportedly dealing with a fractured traverse process in his lower back.
Despite the severity of the issues, he remains unconcerned about either injury lingering into the future.
"I'm not concerned about it," Stafford said. "That should make people feel good. I'm the guy who is living with the back and I feel pretty good about it."
The season-ending injury capped a rough year for Stafford. During the offseason, wife Kelly required brain surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous tumor that was impacting her balance.
Despite the extra time needed to support Kelly, Matthew found the time to learn the team's new offensive scheme under coordinator Darrell Bevell. But after a 2-0-1 start, the Lions fell victim to several close defeats, slipping to a 3-4-1 mark at the time the back injury cropped up.
"It was tough," Stafford said. "Obviously, off-the-field stuff was tough. I've touched on that before. As far as stuff going on in here, difficult losing games and obviously not fun being injured and not being able to play and help us win. That's what you work for is chances to go play and didn't get enough of them this year. "
Stafford said he isn't expecting to have surgery this offseason. As for any preventive measures or changes to his style of play, he hadn't put much thought into it.
"I don't know," Stafford said. "I don't think so, but I'll look into it. Keep sliding, that's probably a good start."
The Lions began the construction of the team's offseason roster, announcing the signing of 11 players to future contracts.
The non-guaranteed, typically veteran minimum deals essentially assure players a roster spot at the start of the new league year in March.
Of the 11 players, nearly all of them were on Detroit's practice squad at some point this season. Wide receivers Victor Bolden, Jonathan Duhart and Tom Kennedy, punter Jack Fox, safety A.J. Howard, defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu, offensive tackle Matt Nelson, linebacker Christian Sam, guard Casey Tucker ended the year on the team's practice squad, while punter Matt Wile was on the unit earlier this season.
Long snapper James Fisher was the only player given a futures contract who wasn't with the Lions this season. Undrafted out of North Dakota State in 2017, he recently spent some time in the defunct AAF with the Arizona Hotshots.