Matthew Stafford played against the Tennessee Titans earlier this month when few gave him a chance because of a rib injury, and Detroit Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell is counting on his quarterback making another rise-from-the-dead appearance Sunday.
Stafford missed his second straight day of practice Thursday because of a sprained ankle, but Bevell said he is optimistic Stafford will play in the Lions' season finale against the Minnesota Vikings.
"You’re going to have to convince me a lot that this guy’s not going to go," Bevell said. "He’s as tough as they come, tough as nails, he wants to be out there, and I think really those two things are probably the most important, if the guys want to. I mean, I always say this, I always say that your mind’s a powerful thing and you can do a lot if you just believe in that. And the guy wants it, so there’s not a doubt in mind that he won’t make it happen, but obviously we’re going to continue to go through the week and see how it goes."
Stafford has practiced sparingly the past month because of a trio of injuries.
He partially tore ligaments in his throwing thumb in a Nov. 15 win over Washington, and has played with a brace ever since. He said earlier this week he does think he'll need surgery after the season.
Four weeks later, Stafford suffered a rib cartilage injury in a Dec. 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Stafford took only a smattering of reps in practice the next week, but played seven days later in a loss to the Tennessee Titans, when he was pulled early in the fourth quarter with the Lions down three touchdowns.
Last week, Stafford sprained his ankle on the third offensive play of a 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and sat out most of the rest of the game.
Bevell said Stafford does not need to practice this week in order to see the field Sunday.
"I mean, the guy, he’s dialed in," Bevell said. "He’s in every meeting, he’s going through all the process of everything that we need him to go through and just to go out and get the physical reps, it’s not necessary. I think I’ve said it in the past. This guy can go on no reps. Now, do I want him to have reps. Obviously, that’s a positive thing for us. But he knows our offense, he knows what we’re trying to get going on and he has no issues with being able to function if he doesn’t get reps."
Linebacker Jamie Collins (neck), offensive lineman Joe Dahl (back) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) also will not practice Thursday. Bevell said Golladay, who has not played since Nov. 1, will not be available against the Vikings.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Darrell Bevell confident Matthew Stafford plays finale