Matthew Stafford says he'll be ready for Lions' offseason program

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he will be ready to go for the offseason program when it starts in April after he suffered a back injury that took away half of his 2019 season.

The 31-year-old missed the final eight games of the year after fracturing bones in his back against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 3. He practiced the following week but was told the day before the Lions faced the Chicago Bears on Nov. 10 that he wouldn't play.

He didn't practice or play again this season. Now, though, he is pretty close to being back to normal and won't need surgery on his back or hip this offseason.

"I feel really good, which is good," Stafford said. "I've had quite a bit of rest, obviously, and I think I'll be feeling really, really good pretty darn soon, to tell you the truth."

Stafford said his back injuries from 2018 and from this season are "trending in the right direction," and he doesn't know of any preventive care that can keep him from being injured in the future.

Stafford also tried to assuage concern about the back being a lingering issue. "I'm not concerned about it, if that should make people feel good," he said. "I'm the one with the back, so I feel pretty good about it."

He said how he feels now is what gives him confidence that his back injury won't linger.

Stafford said he's been able to throw but declined to go into specifics about the injury or how he might need to work with it.

Despite missing half the season, Stafford was named a Pro Bowl alternate after completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Lions were 0-8 without Stafford this season when they started Jeff Driskel and David Blough at quarterback. Stafford said it isn't up to him whether or not the team brings in an established veteran or a highly selected rookie to back him up in 2019 or stick with Blough or Driskel behind him.

Stafford said he has "good dialogue" with general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia about the organization and its future. He didn't want to tell ESPN.com about things he has voiced or will voice.

The quarterback did address the window the Lions have to win with him in his 30s.

"Every offseason is important. If I was going to be 29 or 28, I wouldn't be coming into the offseason being like, 'Oh, I got years,'" Stafford said. "I mean, every time we come up in April and then again for training camp, we're trying to win.

"We're trying to win right now, and that's every season. If that's not our goal every season, then I'm missing something because that's what I think it is."