Playing through pain had never been an issue for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford until team doctors told him it was. The 31-year-old passer had started 136 regular-season games for Detroit before he was ruled out for the team's Week 10 game in Chicago.
The reasons, according to ESPN, were fractured bones in Stafford's back, an injury that reportedly dates back to last year. The pain intensified through the 2019 season to the point where Stafford was told he should not play.
Stafford, who has three seasons left on his current contract beyond 2019, had not missed a start for the Lions since 2010. While he's out with an injury, Detroit is playing Jeff Driskel (and now Davif Blough) at QB. Before his injury, Stafford was maintaining career-highs in passer rating (106.0) and QBR (73.1) this season.
Below is all you need to know about Stafford's injury, including a timeline of his injury updates and when the Lions might get him back in the lineup.
How long will Matthew Stafford be out?
According to ESPN, the initial word on Stafford's injury was it could keep him out one week "or three weeks." We've passed three weeks, and NFL Media reported last week that the Lions QB "could miss up to a month and a half."
Stafford, who was ruled out for Detroit's Week 12 game in Washington as well as its Thanksgiving game against Detroit, wants to play again this season despite the team reportedly having discussed shutting him down for the rest of the year.
After the Lions in Week 13 play their annual Thanksgiving day game, this year at home against the Bears, they'll get a mini-bye before they play the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 14.
Shortly after Stafford's status for the Week 10 Bears game was announced, Stafford's wife Kelly wrote in an Instagram post, "I'm happy his body will get a little healing time."
What is Matthew Stafford's injury?
According to multiple reports, Stafford has fractured bones in his back. It's unclear when the injury initially occurred, but according to ESPN, it "dates back to last season, when he played through the pain and didn't miss a game, even though those around him knew how much he was suffering."
Stafford also is dealing with a hip injury, according to NFL Media.
On the Saturday night before the Chicago game in Week 10, ESPN reported Stafford was being told not to play due to the back injury. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report and was practicing through the week while hoping to play through the pain.
The next morning, Stafford evidently gave in to doctors' suggestions to get further testing done on his back. He had an MRI a couple days before the Bears game, per NFL Media,
Matthew Stafford injury timeline
Stafford had been playing through pain in his back all season thanks to an injury that reportedly bothered him last year, too.
Before he was ruled out for the Chicago game in Week 10, Stafford had been listed as questionable on Detroit's injury report five times dating back to last season. According to ESPN, he nearly missed the Lions' home game against the Chiefs in Week 4 due to the pain in his back.
NFL Media noted that a big hit Stafford took in the Lions' Week 9 loss to the Raiders could have been the shot that made him unable to keep playing through the injury. Yet in the week leading up to the Bears game, Stafford was practicing through the pain and telling reporters he was fine.
"I'll be good to go," Stafford said that Wednesday. "I'm not really worried about it. Something different, but I'm totally good." (He wasn't.)
That Saturday, ESPN reported Stafford was being told not to play against the Bears, but he was hoping to play through the pain like always. On the morning of the game, multiple reports indicated Stafford would be inactive in Chicago.
ESPN reported Stafford's injury would keep him sidelined up to three weeks, though he was being considered week-to-week.
Bob Quinn on Stafford: “Had the back injury last week near the end of the Oakland game. Practiced on limited all week. Listed him as questionable. Got to the stadium this morning, met with the doctors, and he wasn’t medically cleared to play today. So, he’s deactivated."
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) November 10, 2019
Before the Washington game, ESPN reported Detroit had discussed shutting down Stafford for the season, but the QB is still aiming to return this season.
Matthew Stafford injury updates
Nov. 24: ESPN reports Stafford wants to return this season even though the team has discussed shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Nov. 17: NFL Media reports Stafford could miss up to a month and a half.
Nov. 15: Stafford is ruled out for the Cowboys game.
Nov. 14: Stafford misses practice a few days before the Cowboys game, meaning he is likely to be ruled out for Week 11.
Nov. 10: Stafford is ruled out for the Bears game, as doctors want to perform further tests on his back. ESPN reports the injury could keep Stafford on the sideline anywhere between one and three weeks.
Nov. 9: ESPN reports Stafford is being told not to play against the Bears, but the QB wants to play through the pain of the back injury.
Nov. 6: Stafford tells reporters he's "fine" and will be "good to go" against the Bears despite pain in his back.