Lions' Matthew Stafford aiming to play in season finale
Matthew Stafford didn't make it out of the first quarter of last weekend's game against Tampa Bay, but the Detroit Lions quarterback remains hopeful he'll be able to suit up for Sunday's season finale, at home, against the Minnesota Vikings.
"If I'm good, I want to be out there," Stafford said. "I want to play. Doing everything I can to get there toward the end of the week, and kind of have to figure it out as we go day-to-day just to see how it responds to treatment and all that. But, hopefully, I can get it good enough to go and be out there."
Stafford rolled his right ankle on Detroit's first offensive series. He stayed in for another play, completing a pass, before exiting. At first, he thought he'd be able to keep playing, but quickly realized he was struggling to put weight on his injured leg.
The medical staff called for a cart to take Stafford back to the locker room for further evaluation and treatment, but he stubbornly waved them off, opting to hop back under his own power instead.
"I didn't want to get on the cart," Stafford said. "I don't want to get on the cart unless I have to, to be honest with you. They told me they were going to bring the cart over and I told them no. I told them I'd get into the locker room some other way."
Beyond the ankle, Stafford is still dealing with a partially torn ligament in his throwing-hand thumb and a painful rib cartilage injury. As he understands it, he won't require offseason surgery to correct the thumb.
Asked if he should be focused on healing more than playing, given the Lions have been eliminated from postseason contention, Stafford responded how you would expect him to respond given the number of injuries he's played through during his career.
"I mean, that's part of what the offseason is, right?" he said. "We're not there yet. Part of the offseason is letting your body heal and get it feeling better, but I signed up to play this year and part of signing up is hopefully getting 16 chances at it. And hopefully more than that. Obviously, we're only getting 16 this year, but I signed up for it, and so did my teammates. So if I'm healthy enough to get out there, I want to be out there and I'll figure out all the other stuff when I've got time."
If Stafford isn't able to play against the Vikings, it's possible he's played his final snap with the Lions. While he remains under contract for two more seasons, the team's next general manager could look to take the franchise in a different direction.
Stafford said the thought hasn't crossed his mind and he'll hold off having any discussions about his future in Detroit until after the game against Minnesota.
"All I'm thinking about is the Vikings and trying to get myself healthy," he said. "I know that's probably hard to get people to believe, but that's the way this business is. I've been in this business a long time, and I understand you got to do everything you can to focus on what's in front of ya in the immediate future. That's what it is for us, and for me at the moment. It's pretty easy for me to focus on that, and it's a division rival, a team that, you know, you want to go out there and beat.