Lions head coach Matt Patricia opened his Thursday press conference by saying he couldn't comment on the health status of quarterback Matthew Stafford or his availability for Sunday's game in Minnesota after the 12-year veteran was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week.
There's still an opportunity for Stafford to play Sunday if he landed on the list because of close contact with a person who tested positive, as long as he doesn't test positive this week and if his five-day quarantine is up before Sunday.
If Stafford is available to play, Lions head coach Matt Patricia isn't worried about his 12-year veteran missing practice this week and being able to play in Sunday's game.
"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," Patricia said Friday. "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."
But Patricia and the Lions also have a backup plan if Stafford isn't able to play, and that plan involves veteran Chase Daniel navigating the offense at quarterback.
"I think certainly he knows our division really well which is great," Patricia said of Daniel. "It's all about knowing the players and schemes and especially at the quarterback position, understanding the defenses and what they can do, and obviously with (Head) Coach (Mike Zimmer) 'Zim' and how great the scheme is up there, that's important for us."
Daniel went 1-2 as a starter with the Chicago Bears the past two seasons, beating the Lions on Thanksgiving in 2018. He threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes in that game. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Vikings last year with Chicago, replacing starter Mitchell Trubisky.
Daniel is 2-3 as a career starter, completing 149 of 218 passes for 1,430 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
"I feel really good about our week of practice," Daniel said Friday. "I thought we were really sharp Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We came out there today and I think one ball hit the ground in red zone work today.
"It's been fun. I think this will only help me down the road if I ever have to play."
We should have some clarity Saturday night and into Sunday about who will start at quarterback Sunday for the Lions.
The Lions have stayed pretty clear of the COVID-19 pandemic through the first couple months of the season, but this week has shown that no team is immune from being impacted.
The Lions placed Stafford, linebacker Jarrad Davis and practice squad safety Jalen Elliott on the COVID-19 list this week. It has impacted the way they've had to prepare for Sunday's game in Minnesota with the Vikings.
"I think for us it's really important that we're trying to do everything we can protocol-wise to stay in front of it and stay safe," Patricia said. "We knew that probably getting towards the month of November and December as flu season kicked up, we certainly understood that situations might change.
"We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the week really going, 'OK, maybe this is the game plan or these are the plays, or these are the roles, these are the positions, how are they backed up?'
"How are they backed up if we have a situation? Who's next, and then who's after that? What's the workload that that person can handle? Do we have to pare it back because of that, or can we push forward, or does it change if that happens? So we kind of go through those scenarios at the beginning of the week."
Patricia said they've navigated that process pretty well this week, and will have a good plan for Sunday.
Detroit will be without Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay Sunday because of the hip injury he suffered last week. It means the Lions will look to some of their other pass catchers to step up and fill the void.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and tight end T.J. Hockenson are two players high on that list, but speedy receiver Marvin Hall proved last week that he can step up and be a factor, too. Hall caught four passes for 113 yards after Golladay left the game, including a 73-yard reception in the second half when he got behind the Colts' defense.
Hall is the fastest of the Lions receivers, and he's shown over the last year and a half in Detroit that he can be a big-play threat at the position. Hall averaged nearly 40 yards per catch last season.
What kind of factor could having to prepare for that speed all game have on the Vikings' game plan and the way they play the Lions in the backend Sunday?
"Because of my speed, of course they're going to key on me to make sure I'm not getting behind the defense, and by doing so, a lot of times they have to focus in on me," Hall said this week.
"In focusing on me, we have a number of dogs that can take over a game and lead us to the promised land. So, with me being in, of course, it's all a matter of what defense they give us for me to be able to help."
SANU SIGNED TO PRACTICE SQUAD
Detroit signed free agent wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the practice squad Friday to help boost their numbers at the position. Sanu most recently played for the San Francisco 49ers, appearing in three games and making one reception for nine yards this season.
A third-round pick (83rd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 out of Rutgers, Sanu has appeared in 121 career games (92 starts) with the Bengals, Falcons, Patriots and 49ers. He's caught 404 passes for 4,516 yards (11.2 avg.) and 26 touchdowns over his nine-year career.