Matthew Stafford is back with his Detroit Lions teammates and coaches. Turns out, he never had COVID-19, according to the Lions.
The veteran quarterback registered a false-positive test late last week, and was placed on the Lions’ reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. He officially was moved back to the active list on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement the Lions explained why:
“As a result of a false-positive test result, he was forced due to NFL/NFLPA protocols to sit out until he received two negative tests. His testing sequence for the pre-entry period was: negative, negative, false-positive. The next three tests were all negative.
“To be clear, Matthew does NOT have COVID-19 and never has had COVID-19 and the test in question was a false-positive. Also, all of Matthew’s family have been tested and everyone is negative.”
False-positive COVID-19 tests are rare, but do happen. As an example, Public Health Ontario said that as of May 23 false-positives had been registered on only about 20 of 228,000 tests (0.0088%) done in the province to that point.
So far in training camps, NFL players are being tested daily, via lower nasal swab tests, rather than the “brain tickling” long-swab, deep-nasal tests common everywhere during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. Reports say lower nasal swab tests are no less reliable than the more invasive types; they’re accurate in detecting the virus more than 90% of the time.
Stafford, 32, missed the last half of last season with back and hip injuries, from which he says he’s fully recovered.
ON BEN’S ELBOW
How damaged was the right throwing elbow of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last September, before he shut himself down for the season?
Big Ben told reporters Tuesday on a video conference call that he’d had “a little bit of an injury in that elbow for quite a few years,” but it was never bad enough to sideline him. It never even bothered him every day, he said, and was “just something that was never serious enough” for surgery or sidelining.
But in a Week 2 loss last season to Seattle, Roethlisberger felt matters worsening, until a deep throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster REALLY messed things up. He said he instantly felt pain shoot up his right arm.
That was it. Big Ben was done for 2019.
Turns out, he tore three of five flexor tendons “off the bone,” and had to undergo a type of surgery that he said “he believes no QB has ever come back from.” There’s “no real name for it,” Roethlisberger said.
The three tendons each had to be surgically reattached to his elbow.
“From what I’ve been told, if I remember correctly … it’s never happened to a quarterback, to this magnitude,” the two-time Super Bowl winner said.
That is, quarterbacks have torn one or two tendons clear off the bone, but not three.
Roethlisberger, now 38, said he could have retired but “I just didn’t feel I was done playing football … If it was a thought, it wasn’t a long one.”
Then he elaborated on his motivation, for this year and, he hopes, a few years more:
“If I felt I was closer to the end (of my career), it would have been more of a decision for me, to think longer about coming back or not. But I just didn’t feel I was close to that yet. I’m not saying I’ve got 10 years left in me, but I definitely feel like I’ve got some really good years left in me.
“That was definitely a motivating factor, to come back and show that I still have a lot left in the tank, I still have a lot to give this team, I still have a lot to give the fans. And I still want to win Lombardis. And I say that with a plural on the end.”
Roethlisberger said he has been throwing well for more than two months.
“My arm feels really good. I threw a lot of balls yesterday. I woke up today and it feels really great.
“I think the plan is still to pitch-count through training camp … Just to see how it’s going to feel … Right now we’re just working on timing with receivers, tight ends and running backs.”
What’s more, Roethlisberger said he has shed some weight.
“I’m probably lighter than I’ve been in 13, 14 years … I’m just really excited about the season.”
Roethlisberger was listed at 240 pounds in 2019.
GOOD MAN TO HAVE IN
Washington head coach Ron Rivera sounded pumped about the team’s signing Tuesday of wide receiver Dontrelle Inman:
“I’m pretty excited about bringing a young man in like that, who’s got some playing experience. It’s a young group of wide receivers we have, and any time we get the opportunity to bring a player in that’s had success, we’re excited about it.”
In 65 games over six NFL seasons with the Chargers franchise, Chicago and Indianapolis, Inman has caught 170 passes for 11 touchdowns.
TRADE IS OFF
On Tuesday, Minnesota traded a conditional seventh-round 2021 draft pick to the Las Vegas Raiders, to obtain defensive tackle P.J. Hall, a bust with the Silver and Black after being drafted in Round 2 two years ago.
But Hall failed his physical with the Vikings, thus his rights revert back to the Raiders.
More players have opted out of playing in 2020, with the deadline to do so rapidly approaching: Thursday at 4 p.m. EDT. (Otherwise, all players are contractually obligated to play this season.)
Tuesday’s additions included Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Andrew Billings, who signed as a free agent in March. He played his first four NFL seasons in Cincinnati, starting 37 of 47 games.
Meantime, more players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for either testing positive for the coronavirus or coming into close contact with someone with it, including: Cleveland WR Ja’Marcus Bradley and Minnesota DT Armon Watts.
Among those activated from reserve/COVID-19: Minnesota S Brian Cole II, Minnesota WR Justin Jefferson and Detroit CB Justin Coleman. Miami activated CB Cordrea Tankersley off the list then waived him.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020