ALLEN PARK — If you think Jim Caldwell would bench his starters — including Matthew Stafford — in the Lions’ season finale against the Packers, you have not been paying attention.
The Lions coach has been consistent through his four seasons in Detroit. He plays every game to win and to do that he’ll put his best players on the field.
It’s pretty simple.
“This game still for us still has significance. It’s one of our 16 games that we play, and we got to go out and we got to play it well,’’ Caldwell said on Wednesday. “It’s one of the things that I think is often times overlooked. I mean, I got a whole locker room of highly, highly competitive people, and they don’t care what you’re playing. Whether it’s Cornhole, or Ping Pong, or whatever it might be, you guys see them. They compete at every single thing they do, and they’ll be no different in this game as well.”
(Cornhole and Ping Pong are the games of choice in the Lions’ locker room.)
Stafford and his teammates work hard all year for the chance to play 16 games.
“I think the football pads are on and it’s Sunday. There’s a lot at stake. Every time we go out there and play, whatever you put on tape is who you are as a player and who you are as a team. And it’s another opportunity for us to go out there and play and get a win,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday. “There’s a chance to have a winning record. There’s a chance to be 5-1 in our division. Some opportunities to go out there and do some things that before the season you wanted to do.”
Some fans want to see backup quarterback Jake Rudock play. Don’t expect to see him unless Stafford is injured.
“I mean I’m the quarterback here. This is what I work hard for. I work hard for opportunities to go out there and play on Sundays. I don’t care what the situation is. You get your body ready. You get your mind ready to go out there and play,’’ Stafford said. “You go out there and play. And I think to think otherwise is not real smart.”
For Caldwell, it goes back to when he was a young college coach and decided to red-shirt some talented freshmen. As he tells the story, the next year those guys were playing for another coach because Caldwell did not have success without them and was fired.
The Lions (8-7) host the Packers (7-8) on Sunday at Ford Field.