Quarterback Matthew Stafford was removed from the COVID-19 list Saturday, and is active today for the Detroit Lions in Minnesota. That's certainly good news for a Lions team hoping to get back to .500 at the halfway point of the season against a tough division opponent in the Vikings.
Stafford missed practice all week after being placed on the list Wednesday, but he's good to go today.
"I think if you called Matt Stafford on an April day and said, 'Hey, we're going to go play a 60-minute football game,' he'd be able to go out there and rip it. He'd be fine," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Friday, when asked about Stafford's lack of practice time this week.
"He'd see defenses; he'd see coverage. He'd be doing all the right things. He's a great vet. He knows how to play the game. I trust Matt Stafford to always do the right things, be ready to go and that's where we are right now."
Stafford won't have his favorite target to throw to today, however, with Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay inactive due to a hip injury suffered last week. Veteran Marvin Hall and rookie Quintez Cephus are expected to help fill the void at receiver with Golladay out. Hall caught four passes for 113 yards last week against the Colts.
View photos from the Detroit Lions' trip to Minnesota for their Week-9 game against the Vikings.
Detroit's offense also won't have the services of guard Joe Dahl, who was ruled out Saturday with a back injury. That means Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was questionable coming in with a foot injury but is active today, will likely shift back over to guard with Tyrell Crosby slotting into the starting lineup at right tackle. The Lions used that combination often when Dahl missed three games earlier this year while on IR.
Defensively, the Lions are without two of their best players in defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Tracy Walker. Flowers was placed on IR this week with an undisclosed injury, and Walker is inactive with a foot injury. Walker was leading the team in tackles this season with 51. I expect a combination of Jayron Kearse and Will Harris to step in alongside Duron Harmon at safety today.
Veteran defensive end Everson Griffen, who the Lions traded Dallas for last week, will make his debut with the team today against a Vikings team he spent the first 10 years of his career with. The Lions are hoping Griffen can help fill some of the pass-rushing void created with Flowers going to IR. Detroit also activated second-year defensive end Austin Bryant off the PUP (physical unable to perform) list on Saturday, and he's active today.
Veteran receiver and return man Jamal Agnew is inactive today with a rib injury. Danny Amendola is likely to return punts for the Lions in place of Agnew, and we'll see who the team puts back there for kickoff returns. That's a big loss for Detroit's special teams, as Agnew has four return touchdowns in his career.
Joining Golladay, Dahl, Walker and Agnew on today's inactive list are: Quarterback David Blough and guard Logan Stenberg.