Quarterback Matthew Stafford sat out Lions practice again Wednesday, and could miss his third consecutive start when Detroit travels to Washington to take on the Redskins Sunday.
Detroit’s currently in last place in the NFC North at 3-6-1, and their playoff chances are on life support.
As such, some fans, media members and even former players have wondered why Stafford should come back at all this season.
“Because this is what I do,” Stafford said Wednesday, when asked why he should play again in 2019. “I understand your question, but this is what I love to do. I love playing football. I appreciate all the hard work that all the guys in this locker room and in this organization put into going out there and trying to win games on Sunday and I love being a part of that.”
Stafford had his 136-game start streak broken two weeks ago in Chicago after he suffered a back injury the week prior late in a game in Oakland. Stafford practiced leading up to the Chicago game, but a scan of his back Friday night showed an issue that’s kept him out of game action and off the practice field the last two weeks.
“It’s tough for me to sit there without the pads on and not be able to impact the game on the field the way I’m used to doing,” Stafford said. “That’s driving me to get back out there, and whenever we all deem it’s the right time for me to get back out there, I’ll be out there.”
Stafford said it doesn’t matter to him if that’s Week 12, 13, 16 or 17.
He was having arguably one of the best seasons of his 11-year career before the injury. He was second in the NFL at the time of his injury with 19 touchdown passes. He was leading the league in 20-plus yard completions (41), and his 8.6 average per attempt was the highest of his career.
Stafford said no one has talked to him about taking the rest of the year off. Head coach Matt Patricia did say Wednesday that right now the team is taking things week by week, but as the end of the season nears, that could change.
“For us, it’s probably, maybe a different conversation as you get closer toward the end of the season,” Patricia said. “Right now, where we’re at, we’re just focused on this week and just worried about kind of everything that affects us for this week.”
But as far as Stafford is concerned, he’s rehabbing to return to action, and expects to do so whenever he gets cleared.
“I just know the work that I put into every season and I want to get as many chances as a I can to play with these guys as I possibly can,” Stafford said. “That’s really just how I think about it. If I’m healthy enough to go play, I’m going to go play.”