Lions give QB Stafford rare rest days at practice

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford rarely ever misses a practice. He's fought through injuries. He's never asked for a day off. Yet the veteran quarterback did little, if any work, on Saturday at Detroit Lions training camp. And Lions coach Matt Patricia said the same thing would happen Sunday when the franchise took the field.

There's no injury to be concerned about and no other concerns, but rather a predetermined break the two talked about before camp even started when they looked at the schedule.

"This was a schedule kind of break in the middle of camp that he and I talked about before, in July, that coming out of New England and before we head to Houston, which will be another really kind of intense couple days of practice, that it'll be a good opportunity for him to just be at practice," Patricia said. "He is going to do whatever is scripted for him to do for the day and give some of the other guys an opportunity go out and compete.

"And then also just allow him, he's been doing this, he's a professional and he handles himself really well, prepares really hard, is great at the meetings so I just thought it was a good break in the action in the middle part of training camp to do that."

Stafford last truly missed a practice in late August, 2017 -- when he signed his then-record-setting contract extension. Before that, he hadn't missed a practice since 2012.

The timing also works considering the Lions are working in a new quarterback, Josh Johnson, who was signed Saturday after Tom Savage suffered a concussion in the preseason opener against New England. With Stafford able to watch for a couple of days, the Lions can get both Johnson and David Fales enough reps for both evaluation and to be prepared for practices in Houston and then a preseason game against the Texans on Saturday.

Patricia said "it's really just a feel thing" when it comes to scheduling practices and proper rest for his player. He said the patterns of preseason differ from the regular season, so it forces some altering of how the schedule might go. For instance, the Lions play Saturday night, players are off Sunday and then Monday becomes an NFL-type Wednesday in preparation for the third preseason game against the Bills, when Stafford is expected to play a lot.

Stafford wasn't the only player to get rest days. Patricia said they are conscious of the "volume" they are giving veteran receiver Marvin Jones, who didn't also practice Saturday, and are trying to manage players' workloads to get them enough to prepare but not wear them out.