Matthew Stafford’s back injury is worse than the Detroit Lions have let on.
While Lions coach Matt Patricia called Stafford “day to day” and “week to week” with an injury that will keep him out for the second straight game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, ESPN reported that doctors have told Stafford he’s dealing with “a six-week injury.”
Stafford suffered fractured bones in his back in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ Week 9 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
He practiced on a limited basis the following week, but was sent for testing late in the week, at which point doctors determined it was not safe for him to play in a Week 10 game against the Chicago Bears.
Stafford, who did not practice last week, played through a broken transverse process in his back late last season. He has said this year’s injury is different and not related to last year’s injury.
A number of NFL quarterbacks have missed time with back injuries in recent seasons.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back in the 2016 preseason that caused him to miss 10 weeks. Dak Prescott replaced Romo as starter during the injury and never relinquished the job.
Cam Newton suffered two transverse process fractures in a 2014 car accident, missed one game with the injuries and returned for the final two weeks of the regular season and the playoffs.
Stafford had his streak of 136 consecutive starts snapped against the Bears. If he requires a full six-week recovery from this injury, he can return for the Lions’ final two games, Dec. 22 against the Denver Broncos and Dec. 29 against the Green Bay Packers.
Patricia said Friday “a medical plan (is) in place” for Stafford to return this season, but he declined to share details.
“He’s doing great,” Patricia said. “He’s fine. Normal. Grinding away. A lot of studying, getting ready to go, helping everybody around him and preparing, which is great. Just keeps everything consistent for us. he’s just the same old just getting ready to go play a game.”
Along with Stafford, the Lions made offensive linemen Rick Wagner (concussion), Dan Skipper and Beau Benzschawel, defensive linemen Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) and Romeo Okwara (groin), and cornerback Michael Jackson inactive on Sunday.
Safety Tracy Walker is active and expected to play for the first time since injuring his knee in a Week 8 game against the New York Giants. Walker returned to practice for the first time on a limited basis Friday.