Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford flew private to Minnesota and is expected to start Sunday against the Vikings, despite spending the entire week in isolation and being unable to practice after close contact with a person unaffiliated with team who tested positive for COVID-19.
That doesn’t mean Stafford didn’t get any reps, though.
According to sources, Stafford received the Lions’ practice script each morning and participated in every meeting virtually. He was able to watch practice nearly live, thanks to a system that logs video of each play as they happen.
Detroit has video boards that log practice as it happens and players on the field can see their rep instantaneously. Stafford had access to that, as well.
Then, during the Lions’ usual blitz pickup exercise Friday, Stafford’s computer was hooked up to large concert-style PA speakers so he could lead the drill. Still quarantined and watching via Zoom, Stafford called out the protections and checks against whatever defense was dialed up, and the rest of the offense communicated the call as if Stafford were in the indoor practice facility with them.
Does it get any more 2020 than that?
Stafford’s “high-risk” close contact with an individual close to his family was on Monday. Under the latest NFL-NFLPA protocols, he had to isolate for five days. That meant he wasn’t allowed to travel with the Lions on Saturday or rejoin the team until his latest PCR test result came back from a lab Sunday morning.
Instead, Stafford – who was officially activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday afternoon – took a private plane to Minnesota. He was forced to stay in a different area of the team hotel, and has had no interaction with anyone on the team.
The Lions are in the COVID-19 intensive protocols, anyway, so all the meetings have been virtual. He’s been fully engaged mentally, just hasn’t been able to do it physically.
Backups Chase Daniel and David Blough took the actual, real-life practice reps during the week. But, as long as his latest test comes back negative Sunday morning, it’ll be Stafford under center for a big NFC North game against the Vikings.