Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been in good spirits this week, returning to practice and expected to start a game for the first time since he suffered a thumb injury in Week 8 that he feared was worse than it was.
Stafford injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb in a 43-20 loss at the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29 and missed the next game prior to last week’s bye.
“I’m a huge fan of the bye (week), especially at this point in my career,” Stafford, 35, said Wednesday after his first full practice since the injury. “Whenever it wants to show up, I’m ready for it. If you want to have two of them, I’m cool with that, too. For me, it definitely was the right time, and I do think for our team as well.
“Obviously, a couple guys that were battling through some stuff that inevitably every team has and it’s nice to get those guys some extra rest and just refreshed mentally as well for the rest of the season.”
Stafford acknowledged that he didn’t know how the rest of the season would go for him after hitting the thumb “three different times” during the game against the Cowboys. One play, he “smashed it” on a helmet; another play, he “pulled it in a not-fun direction.”
He said Wednesday that he held on to a football the rest of that game while on the sideline to keep the thumb stretched and loose. Later, he went through medical examinations and tests.
“I thought it was going to be quite a bit worse than it was, so just happy it’s not as bad as I thought,” Stafford said. “I feel pretty confident in my ability to go out there and play at a pretty high level.”
Stafford has returned from injuring the thumb before, so, “hopefully, I’ll be better for it.”
He said Wednesday confirmed what he was hoping to see. He wore a soft wrap around his thumb that he said was a protective measure.
“It is a fine balance of rest and rehab as much as I possibly can to try to let everything in there kind of settle down,” Stafford said. “But at the same time, understand that at some point, you’ve got to go out there and see what you’ve got. I was able to do that a little bit on Monday, then full practice today. Just doing everything we wanted to do.”
Stafford has thrown for 2,070 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games this season for the Rams (3-6), who play host to the Seattle Seahawks (6-3) on Sunday.
Brett Rypien started the Rams’ 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 9 and was 13-of-28 for 130 yards with an interception and no touchdowns.
The Rams waived Rypien last week and also signed veteran Carson Wentz, who has made 92 career NFL starts.