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Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia defends decision to bench Matthew Stafford

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For the second straight preseason game, the Lions didn’t play Matthew Stafford

NFL: Preseason-New England Patriots at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 against the Houston Texans in their second preseason game. But as the Lions offense took the field for the first time Saturday night, it was newly-signed Josh Johnson who led the offense out. Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford remained on the sidelines, as he did in the preseason opener against the Patriots.

This was a little unusual for Stafford and the Lions. In every year of his career, Stafford has started the second preseason game, and up until last year, he had started every first preseason game of the season, too. We’re now two weeks in, and Stafford hasn’t taken a single live-game snap.

According to head coach Matt Patricia, the reasoning has everything to do with the joint practices in the past two weeks. Those practices, Patricia argued on Saturday night, Stafford all the work they needed to see.

“As far as Stafford is concerned, I think for us, we rolled down here for practice and everything like that, and I think we had a lot of snaps out on the practice field that we felt were really good for us offensively,” Patricia said. “It felt like we had the work we needed to get in.”

It’s been an unconventional training camp for Stafford. Just before the Lions traveled down to Texas for joint practices, he took two practices off for the weekend—something he’s literally never done in his career.

“I’m not 21 anymore,” Stafford said earlier in the week, per the Detroit Free Press. “So it’s probably pretty good to, if you can find a place in the schedule where you think you can get some rest and just kind of feel fresh again, might as well.”

Patricia also noted that while preseason comes with full-speed reps that can’t be simulated in practice, these joint sessions during the week also provide the opportunity to get a little more scheme heavy without putting out any revealing tape to future opponents.

“Sometimes in the practice stuff—the scheme, some of the stuff were doing—is a little more elaborate than what we’re going to do in the game,” Patricia said.

Now the Lions turn into regular season mode. No more training camp. No more joint practices. It’s time to get accustomed to a regular-season schedule, and even throw in some game planning into the mix. That will almost certainly mean we get to see Matthew Stafford on Friday night in their “dress rehearsal” game against the Bills.