Matt Patricia: Lions gave Matthew Stafford option to dress Sunday

Charean Williams
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Lions coach Matt Patricia gave no real update on Matthew Stafford‘s status Monday.

“No updates on him,” Patricia said, via video from the team. “Again it is truly day by day, week by week right now as far as he’s concerned. You know he practiced all last week, so we’ll move ahead with kind of a similar plan as we go forward this week.”

Patricia did provide a more thorough answer on what happened with the Lions listing Stafford as questionable on Friday, players saying they knew Saturday that Stafford wouldn’t play and the Lions not changing the quarterback’s status until the day of the game.

The NFL recently fined the Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin over failing to properly report Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury early this season.

“Basically the way last week worked was, you know, Stafford practiced all week,” Patricia said. “He took a lot of reps during the course of the week. Now we always practice our backup quarterback. We have for the entire season in a certain amount reps during the course of the week. I’d say depending on the previous game, a lot of those reps for the backup quarterback will usually go earlier in the week, maybe later in the week depending on kind of where Matthew feels at the beginning part of the week or if it’s a short week or something along those lines. He felt really good through the course of the week, so that was all positive from that standpoint. We had some additional scanning Friday evening that took place. That scanning really caused us to have some further internal discussions over the weekend. That was really what kind of sparked some of those conversations. The discussions, the details of those I’m going to leave private because they’re medical conversations.

“But to be honest with you, Saturday when we came in, before we left, just to prepare the team in our preparation to make sure we were doing our due diligence because of where the rep count was. I told the team, ‘Look, we have to be prepared for all outcomes, and if it’s a situation where our quarterback can’t play, we have to be ready to go.’ We actually extended our Saturday walk-through with that in mind, so we took a double amount of reps just to get everybody ready to go. It’s really no different than some of the other things we do during the course of the week with other positions, whether it’s a specialty player — a punter, a kicker. Obviously, the quarterback is in the same situation, because you have one guy that basically does the majority of that stuff. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure the team was prepared. Knowing Matthew Stafford, he wants to play. He’s extremely tough. He’s extremely competitive. And honestly, we spent most of Saturday trying to figure out a way, if there was a way for him to play safely. That’s really it. He’s very competitive. He’s honestly one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. I’ve seen him play through some pain in other games that I don’t even know if some of the toughest guys would have played through. In those situations where it looks like we’re going through the course of the week in previous weeks where he’s been really sore, beat up, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if this guy’s going to make it,’ and he shows up on Sunday. With that in mind, knowing the toughness, knowing how competitive he is, I just wanted to wait as long as possible really from that standpoint because of his situation.”

Patricia said a decision was made Saturday night after team meetings that Stafford wouldn’t start. They told Jeff Driskel he would start.

But Patricia and Stafford both said Monday that Stafford had until Sunday morning to make a decision about whether he wanted to dress.

“Out of respect for him, and everything that he’s done for this organization, I just wanted to leave that option open when we got to Sunday if he wanted to dress,” Patricia said. “I think that’s important. I think that’s important to a player. I’ve been in that situation before where I had to tell a very established, long-time great player in the NFL he was inactive, and it probably broke my heart more than it broke his to tell him that.

“I wanted to leave him that option, and then therefore we’d make it official on Sunday morning if he wanted to dress. . . .So we had to meet again on Sunday and go through that again. At that point, we made the decision it wasn’t safe, and we couldn’t figure out a way to do it.”

The NFL is reviewing the Lions’ reporting of Stafford’s injury, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, so the team and Patricia will have to convince the league they didn’t violate league rules.

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