ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he will be ready to go for the offseason program when it starts in April after suffering a back injury that took away half of his 2019 season.
The 31-year-old missed the final eight games of the year after fracturing bones in his back against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 3. He practiced the following week but was told he wouldn’t play the day before the Lions faced the Chicago Bears on Nov. 10.
He didn’t practice or play again this season. Now, though, he is pretty close to being back to normal and won’t need surgery on his back or his hip this offseason.
“I feel really good, which is good,” Stafford said. “I’ve had quite a bit of rest, obviously, and I think I’ll be feeling really, really good pretty darn soon to tell you the truth.”
Stafford said both his back injury from 2018 and from this season are “trending in the right direction,” and that there isn’t any preventative care that he knows of that can keep him from being injured in the future despite back-to-back seasons hurting his back.
Stafford also tried to assuage anyone concerned about the back being a lingering concern by saying, “I’m not concerned about it, if that should make people feel good. I’m the one with the back, so I feel pretty good about it.”
He said how he feels now is what gives him confidence the back injury won’t linger in the future.
Stafford said he’s been able to throw but declined to go into specifics about the injury or what he might need to do in the future working with it.
Despite missing half the season, Stafford was named a Pro Bowl alternate after completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Lions were 0-8 without Stafford this season when they started Jeff Driskel and David Blough at quarterback. Stafford said it isn’t up to him whether or not the team brings in an established veteran or a highly selected rookie to back him up in 2019 or stick with Blough or Driskel behind him.
Stafford said he has “good dialogue” with general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia about the organization and the future. He didn’t want to get into things he has voiced or will voice in the future.
The quarterback also addressed the window the Lions have to win with him in his 30s.
“Every offseason is important. If I was going to be 29 or 28, I wouldn’t be coming into the offseason being like, ‘Oh, I got years,'” Stafford said. “I mean, every time we come up in April and then again for training camp, we’re trying to win.
“We’re trying to win right now and that’s every season. If that’s not our goal every season then I’m missing something because that’s what I think it is.”