Bucs' Bruce Arians: Matthew Stafford 'one of my all-time favorite guys'
Plenty of opposing coaches have raved about Matthew Stafford over the years, but Tampa Bay's Bruce Arians went above and beyond with his praise for the Lions quarterback during a Tuesday conference call.
"He's one of my all-time favorite guys," Arians said. "He's tough as nails. Like I said the other day, he's one of the few quarterbacks I like going out and watching warm up, just to watch him throw because he's so special.
"Always felt like he was extremely, one of the top four or five guys in this league for a long time. He is, like I said, he's tough as nails and his guys know it. They know he's gonna suck it up for 'em."
While Stafford has always had a knack for putting up big numbers, and his toughness is beyond reproach at this point in his career, Arians' opinion of Stafford isn't reflected with how the rest of the league or its fans have viewed him. Stafford has been selected to just one Pro Bowl during his 12-year career.
Arians, who has coached some of the league's more dynamic offenses the past decade, has an easy answer for that.
"I think same old story is winning, you know?" Arians said. "You can be a great player, (but) if your team's not winning, you're not going to get what you deserve — and he deserves a lot."
The Lions were down five players during Tuesday's practice with wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip), center Frank Ragnow (throat), offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby (ankle), offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaiati (concussion) and linebacker Jamie Collins (neck) sitting out the session.
Golladay has now missed seven straight games with the hip issue and is looking less and less likely to return to action this season. Ragnow, meanwhile, will visit a specialist again this week to evaluate the torn throat cartilage he suffered earlier this month.
Vaitai and Collins are new additions to the injury report this week after both exited Sunday's game against Tennessee. Vaitai had just returned from a three-game absence related to a nagging foot injury prior to suffering the concussion, while Collins was hurt attempting to tackle Titans running back Derrick Henry.
In addition to those five players, offensive tackle Taylor Decker (groin), cornerback Mike Ford (foot), cornerback Darryl Roberts (hip) and Stafford (rib/thumb) were limited participants.