Stafford attended practice but was a spectator for the portion open to the media, standing to the side while Chase Daniel and David Blough took reps in his place. He had what appeared to be a brace or supportive wrap over the thumb, which he largely kept inside his hand warmer during a brisk day in Michigan.
After Stafford said Monday on FOX 2 Detroit that "I like my chances" to play against the Panthers, he walked it back some Wednesday after not practicing.
"I'm just going to take it day by day, see how it heals," Stafford said. "How it feels throughout the week and go from there."
Stafford he hopes he can practice at some point during the week.
Two weeks ago -- because of close-contact exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 -- he did not practice at all throughout the week and played Sunday.
As for why he didn't practice Wednesday, some of that could be on his coach, Matt Patricia.
"We're just trying to be smart with it," Patricia said. "Obviously, I think we all know how tough Matthew Stafford is, and he's going to do everything possible. And for the most part, it's probably me just trying to slow it down through the course of the week. Sometimes he gets out there and gets competitive and likes to do what he knows that he can do. From that standpoint, we'll take it day by day."
This, of course, could affect his ability to throw the ball.
"Obviously gripping and throwing the ball is a little bit different when any of your fingers hurt or are injured," Stafford said.
He had little issue throwing against Washington, completing 24 of 33 passes for 276 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions after injuring the thumb on a sack in the first quarter. X-rays on the thumb came back negative, Stafford said Monday, but he would not confirm a NFL Network report stating there was ligament damage.
Stafford said that previous hand injuries he had played through -- including a middle-finger injury in 2016 that saw the Lions lose their final three regular-season games and a playoff loss to Seattle -- are different from this one in determining whether he would play.
"Some of those in the past have been pain tolerance, and others have been like function as well, you know," Stafford said. "So it's all in the equation, that's part of it."
Stafford said he wasn't sure yet where the thumb injury would classify.
"Trying to figure out if I can get through it and figure out if I can get out there throughout the week and practice," Stafford said. "Hopefully some at some point, and then see if I can go out there and play."