Quarterback Matthew Stafford was on pace for a career season last year before a back injury suffered Week 9 in Oakland ended his season prematurely.
The 11-year veteran was back on the field throwing shortly after the season ended and conducted throwing sessions with teammates throughout the offseason in lieu of OTAs and minicamp practices, which were cancelled due to COVID-19.
"His drive, his competitiveness, I knew he'd be right back at it," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Friday when asked about Stafford. "Just keeping him healthy and making sure he went into the offseason as safely as possible was important for us and certainly through training camp as we go with him knowing the offseason was limited we want to make sure with all of our quarterbacks we have a real smart plan for all of them."
After a COVID-19 scare due to a false positive test just a few days into camp, Stafford is back in action and back to being his old self, according to his head coach.
"He knows his body, his arm and all of that better than anybody and nobody works harder," Patricia said. "This guy loves football. I love it when he calls me and says, "Hey, I'm going to go throw this or work this out. I'm going to go grab these guys and do this.' Almost like that football junkie mentality. You just love it. You just love his passion and grind for the game."
The Lions learned the hard way last year that it's tough to win without their starting quarterback. Detroit went 0-8 without Stafford.
If they can keep him healthy, he's got a plethora of skill-position weapons around him, and we saw the first half of last year that Darrell Bevell's system is a perfect fit for Stafford's skill set.
This Lions' offense has the chance to be dangerous, but that's contingent on Stafford staying healthy and picking up right where he left off last season.