Quarterback Matthew Stafford has undergone a lot of changes in his 11 seasons with the Detroit Lions.
Add getting a couple days off in training camp recently to the list.
His time off from practice has not been as dramatic as a head coach being fired. There were two of them – Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell – before current head coach Matt Patricia was hired in 2018.
He worked with three offensive coordinators – Scott Linehan, Joe Lombardi and Jim Bob Cooter – before Darrell Bevell was brought in this year.
And the personnel wheel keeps spinning, as it does every season with every team, bringing in a new cast of linemen, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and position coaches to get acquainted with on a yearly – and sometimes weekly – basis.
Stafford was back running the offense this week, including the two days of joint practices with the Houston Texans Wednesday and Thursday.
Patricia has not made public his plan for Saturday’s preseason game against the Texans at NRG Stadium, but if he follows last year’s rotation, Stafford will start and play a possession or two.
On the surface, giving a starting quarterback a couple of days of rest doesn’t seem like a big deal.
But when it’s Stafford, who has a warrior-quarterback mentality and a feeling of personal responsibility to lead his team no matter when or what, it at least raises questions that need to be answered. After all, Stafford has started all 128 regular season games and three playoff games in an iron-man streak that began on opening day of 2011.
Patricia presented him with the plan to take a rest in camp, Stafford said.
“It was good,” Stafford said. “It was good to see things from afar. Coach Patricia and I talked about it awhile back. As always, it’s hard for me to take a little bit of a back seat. It was good for me.
“It’s not easy for me, but it’s probably good for me in the long run. It’s something the coaches and Coach Patricia and I talked about. It gave me a little more perspective – let me coach the guys on the sideline.
“It’s not easy as a competitor to sit out, but it’s probably the smart thing to do.”
With 128 straight starts in the regular season, Stafford is tied with Patrick Peterson and Ryan Kerrigan for the fifth longest streak among active players. Former Lions safety Glover Quin was third with 148 when he retired after last season.
One fact that cannot be stressed enough is that Stafford is not being rested to give the coaching staff a chance to get a more in depth look at a young quarterback who might eventually be his successor.
Tom Savage, who started last Thursday’s preseason loss to the Patriots but went out early with a concussion, is not a candidate. Neither are third-stringer David Fales, or Josh Johnson, who was signed after the injury to Savage.
Regardless of who has played quarterback – or any other position for that matter -- the offense still looks like a work in progress under Bevell. It still looked out of sync at times in Thursday’s practice.
Stafford actually began getting a lighter load before the Patriots game. He participated sparingly in the walkthrough on Wednesday and did not play in the game. The team was off Friday, and Stafford’s two personal days off were Saturday and Sunday. Monday was another off day, and Stafford returned to practice on Tuesday.
Stafford has not sustained any apparent injury that would cause the medical and training staff to recommend backing off on his practice time. He ran hill repeats after practice last Saturday, the first of his off days.
He has gotten noticeably leaner in recent seasons, but there has been no obvious change since last season.
He did make a casual mention about his age – he turned 31 in February – but it seemed like a light-hearted comment.
“I’m not 21 anymore, so it’s probably good if you think you can find a place in the schedule where you can get some rest,” he said.
“I think it’s smart when you have chances to try to take care of yourself – try to make sure you feel as fresh as you possibly can. Obviously, we had a couple of hard weeks there.
“We had kind of a little bit of a break in the schedule.”