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Lions Mailbag: Quarterbacks in question

8/8/2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions will finally play football against another team Saturday night at Ford Field and things will really start to ramp up.

Coaches will begin to have answers on who plays well during games. Players might get a better feel for their positioning on the roster. Fans will get to see football again.

And as always, there are questions. So here are some from this week in this edition of Lions Mailbag. To ask questions, either use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email michael.rothstein@espn.com.

Now, on to this week's queries:

@mikerothstein: In a word, no. Yes, Dan Orlovsky had an atrocious practice Wednesday night at Ford Field, but that will happen from time to time. For instance, there were practices during the spring where Calvin Johnson looked less than optimal. In Orlovsky's case, it just happened in public. Orlovsky is still the better option than Kellen Moore and will remain so. He has the experience Jim Caldwell and his staff covet as a backup. There's a reason general manager Martin Mayhew didn't really see Moore as a legit No. 2 quarterback option during the offseason -- it's because his game doesn't really translate that well to the NFL. At this point, I'd still take Orlovsky over Moore to win a game and that's the point of all this.

@mikerothstein: The short answer is if Jeremy Ross were to go down, the Lions would likely look to Golden Tate in the short term to do the job, at least on punts. Depending on how he ends up being used in the offense and how much Theo Riddick can handle as a backup, Reggie Bush would be an intriguing option at punt returns. When it comes to kick returns, Riddick would be a candidate. So would Ryan Broyles, if he ends up making the roster. Kevin Ogletree could handle the role as well. But the first option after Ross would likely be Tate.

@mikerothstein: Yes, Cindy, Gunther Cunningham is still a constant presence at practice and still dresses the same with his black attire. He's not coaching, obviously, but his opinion is still worthwhile. He's a strong evaluater of talent and has always been a good game planner so he's being used that way as a senior coaching assistant. The man has a wealth of knowledge about the game so having him around can only be beneficial.

@mikerothstein: He's been fine. He has had a couple of really good days, but other than that blends in with the rest of the second- and third-teamers on defense and special teams. I'd be curious to see what happens during games, because cornerback is clearly a position that is unsettled on the back end of the Lions' roster. Right now he feels like a better candidate for the practice squad to see what happens in a year or two. His combination of height, weight and hitting is pretty impressive, though.

@mikerothstein: They've been positive about what Matthew Stafford has been doing so far and Stafford appeared comfortable with how things have been going when he spoke Friday as well. He said he's being coached a lot differently now than he was in the previous regime, and that goes beyond learning a new scheme and terms. It extends to his footwork and what he's being asked to do. I've said this pretty consistently -- there could be some rough patches early for him, but by the end of September it will be obvious whether the approach of the new staff is working.


Fritz in Eugene, Oregon asks: Is coach Caldwell doing anything different with the Lions than he did with the Colts when he was their Head Coach? If so, what are the differences? If not, why are the Lions going to do better than the Colts did under his tutelage?

@mikerothstein: That's tough to answer because I have never covered the Colts, but I'll answer your last question -- if you're the Lions, you'd take Caldwell's first two seasons as a head coach. Indianapolis won divisional titles in 2007 and 2008 and reached the Super Bowl in Caldwell's first season. Considering the Lions have never made the Super Bowl and have not won the NFC North with this current grouping of teams, that wouldn't be a bad way to begin. The biggest difference I've noticed -- and from what players have said -- is the efficiency in practices. Everything is fast and has a purpose and Detroit is hoping it translates to a similar style on the field.