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Stafford unfazed by injuries, eyes ‘long’ career

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matthew Stafford has had broken bones in his back for the past two seasons, but the Detroit Lions quarterback said Wednesday it is not changing his thoughts about his long-term future in the NFL.

And that the 31-year-old would like to continue to play.

“I want to play for a long time, yeah,” Stafford said. “I felt like I was playing really good ball this year and something that was kind of a freak deal that happened, and obviously got to take it in stride and listen to doctors, my body, coaches and figure out what’s best, but I was having a lot of fun playing when I was out there and wish I could be out there now trying to help us win games.”

The Lions have not won a game since Stafford was injured late in a loss to Oakland on Nov. 3. He snapped his 137-game starting streak the next week against Chicago. He hasn’t practiced since and has not been placed on injured reserve despite Detroit being 3-8-1 and out of the playoff race.

On Monday, Lions head coach Matt Patricia said part of why Stafford wasn’t on injured reserve was out of respect for the toughness of his quarterback and on Wednesday he said it’s “just a continued process” trying to figure out what’s best for him and how to get him better.

Stafford reiterated his goal is still to play again in 2019 and that his back is “continuing to heal as it should.” He also said once he’s healed, this injury is not one that should be reoccurring. He also said he wouldn’t make the decision to shut himself down this season on his own.

“Whatever happens is going to be a collaborative decision,” Stafford said. “I’m not smart enough to tell you exactly what’s going on and some of those doctors never played football. So it’s kind of a collaborative decision, whatever decision is made and whenever that happens.”

Detroit started Jeff Driskel for three games after Stafford’s injury and then started David Blough on Thanksgiving against Chicago after Driskel injured his hamstring and was then placed on injured reserve Saturday.

Stafford has been on the sidelines for every game, trying to help Blough, Driskel and now the new backup quarterback, Kyle Sloter. He’s spent time with them between drives trying to lend his experience and his input where he can. But the hours of being a coach, he said, would be too tough for him to think about down the road.

Stafford has been the constant in a quarterback room that has had 11 players — including Stafford — cycle through between the offseason and regular season.

“It’s been kind of crazy, but I’ve gotten to know all of them. They’ve all been good dudes,” Stafford said. “Had great attitudes when they came in. Some guys put in tough situations and have all just tried to learn as much as they can and go out and play.”

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