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NOTEBOOK: Stafford proud of his start streak

Posted Nov 29, 2017

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Wednesday's practice including Matthew Stafford's streak, Ziggy Ansah's health and more.

Eli Manning isn’t expected to start at quarterback Sunday for the New York Giants, which will snap his consecutive starting streak at 210 games. It was the longest active streak for quarterbacks in the NFL.

Philip Rivers (Chargers) will now take over as the longest active iron man at quarterback with 187 straight starts. Matt Ryan (Falcons) moves into second (126), and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is third with 107 straight games started.

Stafford’s played through broken and dislocated fingers, ankle injures, bruised ribs and countless other bumps and bruises dating back the start of his streak Week 1 of the 2011 season. Last week vs. Minnesota, he played through an ankle injury the entire fourth quarter, and nearly brought the Lions back to win the game.

Last year he played through a dislocated finger on his throwing hand. A few years back he had to battle through a broken finger.

“So impressive,” Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Stafford’s streak in a conference call this week leading up to his team's matchup with Detroit on Sunday.

“I just think it’s one of the great accomplishments because you’re the target. You’re the quarterback. You’re the target. This is a rough game and that guy is really a guy who runs everything, especially there (in Detroit). Matthew does just an amazing job running the offense on the field. He seems like he’s a very tough guy.”

One of the great lines in football is that the best ability is availability. It really has been one of Stafford’s strong suits. After missing 19 games his first two seasons with shoulder and knee injuries, Stafford’s started every game dating back to 2011. It’s a streak Stafford says he's proud of.

“It means a lot to me,” he said Wednesday. “I think not only, like you said out there on gameday but trying to be out there every practice if you possibly can be. I think it sets a tone with the team. It lets guys know just how invested you are, and I think it’s important.

“Now circumstances happen sometimes where it’s not the case, and I know guys in this league, all across this league, fight tooth and nail. I’ve just been lucky enough to be able to be out there.”

Lions safety Glover Quin, who has his own iron-man streak of 127 consecutive starts intact, says the experience gained in playing that many games and getting to see that many reps is invaluable to a team.

“Being able to be out there every single play in the games, meaning you’re probably getting a lot of those plays in practice as well, you can never underestimate the reps and seeing things over and over again how much it helps you on the field,” Quin said.

Quin said being a consistent presence in both practice and on gameday has allowed him to see so much of the game and better his understanding of it. There’s no substitute for that experience.

“It means a lot,” Stafford said of the importance of being available for his teammates and coaches. “I think just coming from my first couple of years in the league and some of the tough times that came with that as far as injuries go and missing games and not being able to be out there with the guys.

“So, it’s nice to be able to be out there and have a bunch of games under my belt.”

ZIGGY FEELING BETTER

Late in the third quarter of last week’s Thanksgiving Day loss to Minnesota, Detroit defensive end Ziggy Ansah took on a double team on a 3rd and 14, and was still able to push into the backfield and corral Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum with one arm for the sack.

It’s a play Lions fans haven't seen enough of this season, as Ansah has battled through his second straight injury-plagued season.

The sack resulted in a Minnesota punt. The Lions got the ball in terrific field position, and scored three plays later on a 43-yard pass from Stafford to Marvin Jones. Jr.

The Lions need more of those impact plays from Ansah down the stretch if they’re going to get where they want to go, which is the NFC playoffs.

"I've just got to stay focused," Ansah said Monday. "I know I’ve been dealing with a lot this year, but I think the most important thing is for me to continue to do what I do, take care of my body and be able to be on the field cause that’s where I thrive."

Ansah’s sack on Thanksgiving was his fifth of the year, but three came in one game against the New York Giants. Along the way, Ansah’s been a frequent name on Detroit’s injury report.

He battled a knee injury the first two months of the year, and then a back injury popped up in November that forced him to miss the Cleveland and Chicago games. He returned to action on Thanksgiving, but played just 32 of 73 snaps (44 percent).

Playing on Thanksgiving afforded the Lions a mini bye week of sorts with 10 days between Thanksgiving and Sunday’s game in Baltimore.

"I feel pretty good now. For real," Ansah said. "Overall, I do feel pretty good in general, so that’s a good sign."

It's a good sign Ansah is feeling better. He still has five more games to make good on some of the lofty goals he set for himself before the season began.

"The hardest part (has been) being at home, on the couch, watching my boys going out to battle and I’m not able to help," Ansah said.

"But all that said, I’m glad to be back and I’m just looking forward to the game this week."

LEGENDS MEET

With 9.5 sacks this season (eighth most in NFL), Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs now has 124 sacks for his career, which ranks 18th in league history.

Who is Suggs chasing down next on the all-time list? That would be newly signed Lions defensive end Dwight Freeney, who is 17th with 125.5 sacks.

Both players are chasing Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas’ 126.5.

Freeney, 37, could make his Lions debut in Baltimore on Sunday after the team claimed him off waivers from Seattle last Wednesday.

“I’m still having fun,” Freeney said. “I think I have a lot left. I’m here to help out however (I can).”