Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford to play in 3rd preseason game? Matt Patricia won't say

Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press
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Matthew Stafford has yet to play in the NFL preseason and Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was noncommittal Tuesday about whether his starting quarterback would make his debut Friday night against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field, the team's third preseason game.

“Um, you know what? I think obviously he’s a veteran quarterback,” Patricia said of Stafford, 31, who is entering his 11th season. “There’s a lot of quarterbacks in the league that do everything differently. I’ve been around teams where the quarterbacks haven’t played at all in preseason, they played in regular season and they’ve been good whether they played in all the preseason games.

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“It’s really individually based and I think with Matthew we’re just trying to do a good job of making sure that we’re balancing the right amount of practice reps with game reps and what we feel as far as competitive reps against the teams which we’ve been lucky enough to have here for the last two weeks and then we’ll push forward from there.”

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia talks with Matthew Stafford on the field before action against the New England Patriots, Aug. 8, 2019, at Ford Field.

Starting players traditionally get their most playing time of the preseason in the third game. Last year, Stafford started the third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played into the third quarter.

This year, Stafford has yet to take a snap in the preseason and he recently got a six-day break from heavy throwing. On Monday, Stafford told reporters his absence wasn’t due to the back injury he suffered last season and said he would play when he’s told to.

“I said it earlier, when they tell me to go play I’m going to go play," Stafford said. "I’ve played a lot of football. Obviously, I love playing so anytime we go out there and practice I’m always itching to get out there and play. But whenever coach lets me or tells me to go play, I’ll go play."

Patricia said the plan for how much playing time each player gets isn’t written in stone.

“Things can change right up until game time; that’s for coaches and the players to work together to try to decide what’s going to be best for everybody in that situation,” he said. “But it’s not anything where you’re marked out ahead of time and say, ‘Hey, we have to do this, we have to do that, we have to do this.’ It’s got to be fluid from that standpoint.”

Contact Carlos Monarrez at or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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