The Facts: Stafford limped to the finish line last season. Quite literally, actually, laboring up the tunnel following a season-ending win at Lambeau Field. As it turns out, his injuries were more serious than originally reported. “He had a broken back last year," Mike O’Hara, a longtime veteran of the Lions beat who currently writes for the team’s official website, said during a recent episode of his weekly podcast with WJR’s Ken Brown. "Broken bones in his back.”
Diehards Line: Stafford was indeed on the injury report with a back injury late last year, but the extent of the injury was never revealed. ... Stafford left the opener against the Jets after taking two vicious shots to the chest. He also suffered an injury to his pinkie (non-throwing hand) that required him to tape it the rest of the season, then later was listed with the back injury after taking 11 hits in a loss against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13. He was limited in practice each of the next three weeks. Yet, even with Detroit out of contention and missing a slew of skill players like Golden Tate (traded), Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones, Stafford played on. He started every game, running his start streak to 128 in a row. But there’s no doubt the injuries -- to him and so many around him -- also took their toll. Stafford threw for only 3,777 yards overall, the fewest of any full season in his career. His 21 touchdown passes were his fewest since 2012, and his passer rating (89.9) was his worst since 2014. The Lions gave him another vote of confidence after the season, though. They value the veteran’s toughness to remain on the field, and are hoping a return to health -- not to mention a brand-new offense -- will lead to a bounce-back season in 2019.