The Detroit Lions could be without their starting quarterback for their Week 15 game against the Tennessee Titans. According to a report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Lions are not optimistic that Stafford will be able to play this coming Sunday after he suffered a rib cartilage injury during the team's Week 14 loss against the Green Bay Packers.
However, because Stafford has shown a willingness and ability to tough it out through various injuries before, the Lions are leaving the door open that he could play despite the ailment, Fowler said. The injury was serious enough that it kept Stafford off the field toward the tail end of the loss to Green Bay, though, so he'll have to show some improvement throughout this week in order to get back on the field.
If Stafford is to miss time, the Lions would have to turn to backup Chase Daniel, who replaced him in the lineup on Sunday as well as when he suffered an injury back in Week 9. Daniel, a career backup, is in his first season with the Lions after spending three years in New Orleans, three in Kansas City, one in Philadelphia, one in New Orleans again, and two in Chicago. He has made just four starts in his 11 NFL seasons and has completed 160 of 237 total passes for 1,553 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Lions are just 5-8 and firmly on the outside of the playoff picture, so it would probably be a safer bet not to rush Stafford back onto the field. However, interim coach Darrell Bevell likely wants to put the best product out there as he auditions for a permanent spot in the top job, and Stafford's presence would obviously help that effort.
That said, given the Lions' record and the state of their roster, it might also be best for them to explore moving on from Stafford this offseason, and putting him in position to get further injured would complicate that a bit. But those are decisions that will likely fall to a new front office and coaching staff, not the one that is in place now. So, if Stafford feels he is healthy and able to play, the smart bet is on him being out there. The question will be how much he improves over the course of this week, and how much pain he can tolerate on Sunday.