For the third straight game, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did not play for all four quarters. This time, Stafford only managed four plays before going down with yet another injury. Already dealing with partially torn ligaments in his hand and damage to his rib cartilage, this time Stafford appeared to twist his ankle while being pulled backwards by a Buccaneers defender.
At first, Stafford appeared unable to put any sort of pressure on the right foot, as he hobbled off to the locker room. When he returned to the sidelines, he was standing with a heavy tape job, but he was done for the day.
The good news is that the injury appears to be relatively minor. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, is reporting that Stafford’s ankle sprain “doesn’t appear too serious.”
That’s fantastic news for Stafford’s future, because the last thing anyone wants is for the Lions quarterback to have to go through offseason surgery or any other long-term rehabilitation. Stafford is entering a pivotal offseason in which the Lions—and whoever their new general manager will be—face a difficult decision as to whether trade him for valuable assets or hold onto him for the immediate future to either build around or use to groom a young quarterback. Stafford’s health is paramount to both of those plans.
Of course, the elephant in the room is Stafford’s status for Week 17. We all know how stubborn the Lions quarterback is, and as he said last week, “I owe it to the game. I owe it to this organization, everybody. If I’m good enough to play, healthy enough to play, my ass is going to be out there.”
From an organizational standpoint, there is little reason to trot Stafford out there for a meaningless Week 17 game against the Vikings, but we’ve seen this team defer to Stafford time and time again. Just look at what interim head coach Darrell Bevell said about Stafford’s when reporters asked if he’ll shut down No. 9 for the rest of the season.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think he’ll let that happen,”
We know who’s driving the car and who’s riding shotgun. If Stafford feels like he can play, he’ll probably play.