Stafford balances football, wife's recovery

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Quarterback Matthew Stafford said Tuesday that learning a new offense heading into his 11th season with the Detroit Lions has helped him compartmentalize during a scary few months for his family.

Stafford's wife, Kelly, had brain surgery in April to remove a tumor resting on her cranial nerves. Stafford said his wife's recovery is going well but declined to go into further detail. Stafford said he took some time away from the team this spring while his teammates continued learning the playbook of newly-installed offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Stafford said the challenge of picking up the new offense has given him more motivation to stay focused when he returned to work.

"It's not old hat. It's a bunch of new stuff," Stafford said Tuesday after the team's second OTA workout this year. "It's stuff I have to really dive deep into and make sure I'm on top of my game because I'm getting questions right and left from those guys and trying to help them out as much as I can. That's not to say I'm forgetting everything that's going on back home, but I for sure am locked in when I'm here."

Lions coach Matt Patricia called Stafford an "unbelievable professional" for the way he has managed his life away from the team and his responsibilities to the team during the past several months. Stafford thanked the Lions staff, front office and owners for being supportive and allowing him to have a flexible schedule as he worked his way back into a more regular routine at a pace that worked for his family.

Stafford said he wasn't thinking far enough down the road in the immediate aftermath of his wife's surgery to consider stepping away from football for an extended period, but he was happy that her recovery is going well enough that he can continue working with the Lions.

"I was ready to do whatever I needed to do to help her," he said. "She's as tough as they come and did such a great job that luckily I was able to get back here in somewhat of a timely manner. The support we had from family and friends is what really made it possible."

Stafford said he's "as far along as he should be" in understanding Bevell's playbook. He said the verbiage was like learning a new language, but the concepts and schemes are analogous to others he has run.

Kelly Stafford has been updating followers on her progress on her Instagram account during the past couple of months. She had to return to the emergency room for an issue shortly after the surgery. She published a post earlier this week saying she reached an important goal by attending a friend's wedding this past weekend.

"There have been some long days and tough times, but a ton of help and ton of support and a strong wife has helped me out," Stafford said. "...Situations like this change your perspective on a lot of things and puts stuff where it should be."