The work quarterback Matthew Stafford got in during joint practices with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans, is more beneficial than any snaps he could have gotten in either of the preseason games against those teams, which is why Stafford didn’t take part in either contest.
“Schematically, yes,” Stafford said of getting more out of the joint practices than preseason games. “I think most teams that are doing joint practices are probably doing a bit more in practice than they are in the game.
“There’s a fine line kind of in the preseason that you want to make sure you’re practicing all your stuff, but you also don’t want to be just laying it all out there and letting everyone prepare for you. Those practices are a good opportunity to really compete against other guys and run some of your stuff.
“I just know the work we get in those practices is great. Really able to kind of push our limits schematically and see what’s working and what’s not.”
It’s for that reason we continue to see a growing trend of teams running joint practices, and even doing multiple throughout the preseason like the Lions have this year and the year before.
A lot has been made of Stafford not playing in either of Detroit’s first two preseason games, but he’s not alone. Just in the NFC North, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky haven’t played in either of their first two preseason games. Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield are others who haven’t played yet in the preseason.
The important thing here is Stafford feeling like he’s getting in the work he needs to be ready for the regular season. That’s really all that matters. He acknowledged Monday that head coach Matt Patricia runs a thorough training camp, and it’s allowed him to get his work in.
“We run a pretty aggressive, tough ship around here,” Stafford said. “So, we get some good action in practice, and obviously the practices we got with the last two teams were really good for me.”
Stafford even joked that the Lions probably lead the league in forced situations run during practice, and he’s probably right.
Throughout the course of practice the horn will sound and the team will run “got to have it” periods, whether it be a two-point play, two-minute situation or a random 4th and 8 where Stafford has to try to make a play no matter what.
“We’re put in situations all over the place at any given moment in practice and it’s good to practice it and force yourself to be aware of those situations when they come up,” Stafford said.
Typically starters get some work in the third regular-season game as a tune-up to the regular season. Whether or not Stafford plays Friday vs. Buffalo hasn’t been announced. Stafford says he’s healthy. He likes the work he’s gotten in over the last two weeks in joint practices and the work he’s put in overall throughout camp. That’s the important thing.
“When they tell me to go play, I go play,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of football. Obviously, I love playing, so whenever I get the chance to go out there and play, I’ll play.”