The Detroit Lions placed quarterback Matthew Stafford on the COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday, putting his status for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings in jeopardy.
Stafford was unexpectedly not at the afternoon practice and the team released a statement at 4 p.m. announcing the designation. The statement, referencing the purpose of the league’s COVID reserve list, states Stafford either tested positive for the virus or was knowingly in close contact with someone else who tested positive.
Stafford’s wife, Kelly, confirmed multiple reports Matthew was on the list due to exposure to someone else who had tested positive and he, along with the entire family, have been tested and are all negative.
“I appreciate everyone reaching out and giving us well wishes when actually we are fine,” Kelly said in an Instagram video. “We are all negative. My husband is negative. There was just a certain exposure. So we have been testing since that exposure and we are all negative. But I will keep you guys updated if that changes. Thank you again NFL for throwing my family out there when no one is positive and now I’m a solo parent.”
This is actually Stafford’s second stint on the COVID reserve list. After reporting for training camp at the end of the July, he had what was later determined to be a false-positive test and was activated days later.
That incident led to the league changing its policies to address false-positives going forward. It also angered Kelly, who ranted on Instagram about how the perception of Matthew testing positive negatively impacted the family’s daily lives.
“Even after we knew it was a false positive, our school told us they were not allowed back, I was approached in a grocery store and told I was ‘endangering others,’ my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work,” Kelly Stafford wrote on Instagram. “And that’s just to name a few things. I don’t blame these scenarios on any of the people directly involved. I understand where they are coming from, but I do blame the NFL. I blame the NFL for not holding themselves accountable. These are people’s lives and livelihoods that are in those results in their test sites. Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has COVID before releasing that info into the world.”
Had Stafford actually tested positive for the virus, he would be required to be on the reserve list a minimum of five days and would miss Sunday’s game. And if he tested positive while exhibiting symptoms, he wouldn’t be eligible to return until 10 days after those symptoms first presented and 72 hours after a symptom last appears.
According to ESPN, Stafford is actually on track to play since his exposure came on Monday.
“Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford is considered a ‘high-risk, close contact’ from a non-team member, per source,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted. “His last contact was Monday, which means he would be eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID list Sunday and play vs. the Vikings, pending negative tests for him, per source.”
Regardless, Stafford will have to fly separately from the team on Saturday, prior to potentially being activated.
The Stafford news comes one day after the Lions placed linebacker Jarrad Davis on the list. A team source confirmed the cases were unrelated.
Stafford hasn’t missed an offensive snap this season, playing all 464 through seven games. He did miss the final eight games of the 2019 season with a back injury, but to this point, there have been no residual issues from that injury.
If he does end up being sidelined against the Vikings, the Lions would likely turn to backup Chase Daniel against the Vikings. The 11-year veteran has appeared in 65 games during his career, but started just five. He’s completed 68.3 percent of his 218 pass attempts with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
David Blough, who was recently promoted off the practice squad, would then serve as Daniel’s backup. An undrafted rookie out a Purdue a year ago, Blough made five starts while Stafford was injured in 2019.
Through seven games this season, Stafford has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,916 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
In addition to Stafford, the Lions were down multiple players for Wednesday’s practice, while several others were limited. Included in that group is 60 percent of the team’s starting offensive line.
Not practicing for the Lions were left tackle Taylor Decker (back), right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip), safety Tracy Walker (foot) and return man Jamal Agnew (ribs).
Guard Joe Dahl (back), tight end T.J. Hockenson (toe), cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (wrist), linebacker Christian Jones (knee) and cornerback Darryl Roberts (hip/groin) were all limited.