Not many NFL players know what it’s like to make 130 consecutive starts.
Matthew Stafford will find out Sunday when he hits that milestone in the Detroit Lions’ home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers (1 p.m., CBS), and it’s something Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers experienced long ago.
Stafford and Rivers are two of the NFL’s leading iron men, with both ranking among the top five in active consecutive games played.
Rivers has made 209 straight starts, the longest current streak in the NFL, and will tie Eli Manning for the second longest streak ever by a quarterback on Sunday.
Stafford is tied for fourth with Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, behind Rivers, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr (177 straight starts) and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (148).
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“Certainly we love Matthew Stafford, and he’s one of the toughest guys I know, but you can easily sit there and say the same about Philip Rivers,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s proven game after game, year after year that he’s going to go out there and play. Like I said, I’ve seen him play through some pretty serious injuries where he rolled himself out there and we had to go against him, and he played at a high level. I have tremendous respect for him from that regard.”
Stafford said he has tremendous respect for Rivers, too.
Rivers, 37, hasn’t missed a game since 2005, when he was a backup to Drew Brees and Stafford was still in high school.
Since then, Rivers has played through a torn ACL in the 2008 playoffs and a bulging disc in his back that nearly required surgery, among other ailments.
“I got a lot of respect for him as a player,” Stafford said. “He’s a great quarterback, does a great job, I think underappreciated in a lot of aspects. And obviously like you said, the guy shows up for his team every week. Played in the AFC championship game with a torn ACL, which is incredible. I’m sure has played through a million other things that nobody knows about, too. Got to give him a lot of credit. Guy’s there, week in and week out and he’s playing at a high level. It’s impressive.”
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Stafford has braved his share of injuries to keep his starting streak intact, including a broken back last season.
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“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Stafford said. “Sometimes you have stuff that you just, at the quarterback position, can’t play through. Other times you can. It’s not like he’s had however many starts and he feels awesome every time he goes out there. But he’s been able to battle through that stuff and play.”
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Already without their best running back because of a holdout and their best defensive back due to injury, the Chargers suffered another blow Wednesday when they announced tight end Hunter Henry would miss time with a left knee injury.
Henry, who caught four passes for 60 yards in the Chargers’ season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts, reportedly fractured his left knee.
“We have reliable backups,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said in a teleconference Wednesday. “Virgil Green will step up, Sean Culkin, and we’ll bring up someone else. It’s just week-to-week sometimes in this league. You just don’t know what type of roster you’re going to have because of these situations, so you just got to figure out ways to use the guys the best we can to get the most out of them. But it’s definitely not going to change our offense because he’s out, but we’re definitely going to miss him.”
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Lynn said he has not talked to Detroit native Antonio Gates about a possible return to the field. Gates was a late addition to the roster last season after Henry tore his ACL in the spring. The Chargers are expected to promote former Michigan State tight end Matt Sokol from their practice squad.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.
Published at Wed, 11 Sep 2019 23:02:32 +0000