By: Will Burchfield

What became a prominent storyline at the end of the 2016 season for Matthew Stafford and the Lions likely won’t persist into 2017.

Stafford said on Tuesday that his right middle finger, which he dislocated in Week 14, has healed on its own.

“Just needed rest. No surgery, no procedure, anything like that. It feels good,” he said. “Threw a little bit today so feels fine. I’ve been throwing for probably a month, month and a half now.”

Stafford did not miss any time with the injury last season but was forced to wear a protective glove on his right hand in the Lions’ final four games, including their first-round playoff loss to the Seahawks. Though his numbers dipped during that stretch, Stafford refused to make excuses.

On Tuesday, he said the banged-up finger didn’t start feeling better until after the Super Bowl, which was held on Feb. 5. It seems he’s made solid progress in the time since, mostly by sticking to the same offseason routine.

“I think you take a pretty similar approach every offseason. Obviously the physical aspect will take care of itself, being here working out, taking care of your body with all the guys, doing that kind of stuff,” Stafford said.

For Stafford, that includes yoga, a practice he picked up a couple offseasons ago.

“I do it, I’m no master,” he smiled, “but it’s just something to take some pounding off the joints and stay in shape.”

The 29-year-old quarterback is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and was a legitimate MVP candidate prior to the finger injury. So when it was suggested to him on Tuesday that he is past the midway point of his career, Stafford broke out in a defiant grin.

“I don’t know that I’m past the midway point, I want to play for a long time,” he said, later allowing that his role has changed significantly since his 2009 rookie season, particularly in the leadership department.

“I feel like some of the new guys that come in, or the young guys, come to me and kind of ask me what it’s like here, how we do this, how we do that, and maybe in the past, when I was younger, that wasn’t the case,” Stafford said. “So my role is changing for sure, I think it does every year.”

Asked how it felt to be called old, Stafford smiled and said, “That hurt, that hurt a little bit. Still in my 20’s, man…I think if I’m healthy and playing at a high level and winning football games I want to play as long as I can.”


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