Detroit Lions: Dan Orlovsky
Find previous Questions of the Week here.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been popular for a couple of generations now, from video games to animated series to even a recent live action movie.
So a lot of players would know exactly who the Turtles are -- and might have an opinion on them. Reader Ashley (@Ashley9V on Twitter) made the suggestion last week to ask Detroit Lions players who their favorite Ninja Turtle was.
Here are their answers. Have a question you want asked? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot a suggestion over on Twitter @mikerothstein.
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky: Probably Raphael, just because of the sound of the name. I liked them all. I was a big Turtle fan growing up. Maybe Leonardo, because of the name again. He wears blue. Maybe Leonardo. I’m probably a similar artist to Leonardo as well.
Reporter: Similar artist?
Orlvosky: No, I’m actually terrible. Doing stick figures. But that would be as far as I would go.
Punter Sam Martin: Who was the blue one? Yeah, Leonardo, actually. Because he’s blue. Blue is my favorite color. I was never a big Ninja Turtle guy, but when I did, you know how it was really cool when you were younger to have a favorite color and have everything be that favorite color?
Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley: Raphael. He was the coolest one and came off like a bully at the same time and was the first one to dive into a fight. He had to be the toughest one. He had the most swag.
Cornerback Nevin Lawson: I don’t know exactly his name but the one with the swords. The red [Raphaell. That’s him. I always liked how he did all the tricks and stuff with the swords.
Cornerback Rashean Mathis: I was a Michelangelo guy. I think because I was a younger brother. He was the youngest guy, so he was all sporadic and I had two older brothers. One of my brothers thought he was Raph, so being the youngest brother and the youngest spirit, I think that’s why I ended up liking Micaelangelo. When I watched the movie, it was fun to see.
Tight end Joseph Fauria: Which one’s the big one? Raphael. I saw the movie. Think Raphael’s the big one. I think. I don’t know. The big one.
Moore survives for one more: Lions coach Jim Caldwell spent most of the past two weeks deflecting questions on whether he would keep two or three quarterbacks on his roster. At least initially, he’s sticking with three as the Lions kept Kellen Moore for the third consecutive season. Moore outplayed No. 2 quarterback Dan Orlovsky throughout the preseason and clearly the Lions see enough from Moore right now to develop him.
What’s next: While the Detroit roster (depth charts will be updated shortly) is initially set, things could -- and almost certainly will -- change. Don’t be surprised if the Lions look at running backs, linebackers, cornerbacks, wide receivers and maybe offensive linemen on the waiver wire. It's also unclear what Detroit will do with injured linebacker Kyle Van Noy. If he needs to go to injured reserve/designated to return, that can’t happen until Tuesday, so one of the players cut (or someone else) could be coming back. Darryl Tapp might be a good candidate there.
Lions moves: Cut RB Mikel Leshoure; RB George Winn; FB Emil Igwenagu; WR Kris Durham; WR Patrick Edwards; WR Andrew Peacock; TE Jordan Thompson; TE Michael Egnew; OL Rodney Austin; OL Darren Keyton; OL Garrett Reynolds; OL Michael Williams; DE Darryl Tapp; DL Andre Fluellen; DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen; DT Xavier Proctor; LB Brandon Hepburn; LB Shamari Benton; LB Julian Stanford; CB Chris Greenwood; CB Mohammed Seisay; S Nate Ness. Waived/injured DeJon Gomes (was done Friday)
If Kellen Moore were trying to make a case to Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Caldwell for inclusion on the team’s 53-man roster, he certainly did it Thursday night.
Moore, who played the majority of the Lions’ 23-0 victory over Buffalo in the preseason finale, managed the game well and moved the ball down the field with relative ease. Yes, Moore continued to play with and against extreme backups, many of whom will not be on the Bills roster in 48 hours, but he did what he could with what he was given.
That included going 17-of-28 for 172 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdown passes, a 25-yarder to Corey Fuller, was threaded perfectly between defenders.
His status will be one of many calls for Lions coaches and Mayhew.
Here are some other thoughts from the Lions' preseason finale:
- Left guard Garrett Reynolds blocked impressively on the first drive, sealing a pocket well for Dan Orlovsky. His candidacy hasn’t been discussed much as winning a job on the 53-man roster, but that he earned the start in the final preseason game over Rodney Austin, a young player who could use the reps, could be significant. On his second series, he got upfield blocking fairly well.
- Wide receiver Ryan Broyles ended up as the punt returner after Jeremy Ross. Beyond the fact that Broyles' Achilles injury opened the door for Ross to return punts last season, that is a sign the team is trying to see what Broyles can give Detroit on special teams as it figures out whether to keep him on the roster. It was really interesting to see Broyles, who is in a tight receiver competition with Kevin Ogletree, Kris Durham and Fuller, on the field late in the fourth quarter with a bunch of players who won’t be on rosters by Monday.
- Nate Freese was tabbed the team’s kicker earlier in the week. He responded by nailing a 53-yarder right down the middle in the first half and another 53-yarder in the second half Thursday night. He has rebounded well from his struggles early in camp and appears to have become a good option for Detroit.
- Isa Abdul-Quddus probably locked up a roster spot Thursday night. He was around the ball consistently, intercepted another pass and was active on special teams. Add in both James Ihedigbo and Don Carey not traveling to Buffalo -- Carey’s been hurt -- and Abdul-Quddus should be safe this weekend. Jerome Couplin, who lined up with Abdul-Quddus a lot Thursday night, is on the bubble and could be one of two undrafted free agents with a legitimate chance to be on the 53-man roster along with tackle Cornelius Lucas. Lucas is in a fight with Michael Williams for the fourth tackle spot.
- The Lions should be pretty happy. Unless something comes out about Ihedigbo and an injury, Detroit got out of the preseason with only injuries to Kyle Van Noy and Carey among potential major contributors. The Lions should be pleased to be so healthy.
1. Is this it for Kellen Moore: The Lions’ No. 3 quarterback has been one of the most talked-about players during the preseason – at least from a fan perspective. After the first preseason game, he briefly looked like he might push Dan Orlovsky for the No. 2 spot, but now his place on Detroit’s roster in 2014 solely lies on whether or not Martin Mayhew and Jim Caldwell choose to keep three quarterbacks instead of two. If the Lions go with three, Moore makes the team. If the Lions go with two, he doesn’t (barring injury). Moore could end up on Detroit’s practice squad if he is released and clears waivers, but there is a chance this could be Moore’s final game for Detroit.
2. Can any receivers stand out: This would seem like one competition where all of the principles will receive ample playing time since it is unlikely Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate see more than one series, if anything. So this is a final impression for Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree, Ryan Broyles and Corey Fuller to make their cases for a roster spot. It’s also a chance for Patrick Edwards and Andrew Peacock to put tape together or impress enough for a practice squad spot. But the main focus will be on the four receivers fighting for two or three spots since Johnson, Tate and Jeremy Ross are going to occupy three of them.
3. Hello again, Jim Schwartz: It probably won’t be as big of a deal as it will be when the former Lions coach returns to Detroit with the Bills during the regular season, but a lot of the current group of Detroit players were drafted by the Buffalo defensive coordinator. In a game where almost all of the subplots surround roster spots, potentially the starting right tackle spot and keeping players injury free, seeing a former head coach on the opposite sideline could be intriguing. More intriguing goes to the first point up top – if any coach knows Moore, it is Schwartz, who kept him on the Detroit roster the past two seasons as the team’s No. 3 quarterback behind Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill, both NFL starters.
For the past two seasons, it has also been the final time he has taken a snap until the next preseason. Now in his third year, this is probably the same scenario for Moore. He'll play against the Bills, then he'll likely be sitting Sundays. The bigger question is where.
Moore is no lock to make the Lions under first-year head coach Jim Caldwell and whenever the coach has been asked about keeping two versus three quarterbacks, he has said it depends on the situation. He didn't want to give away what he was going to do, but considering Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky appear to have the top two spaces locked up, it is a case of keeping Moore or cutting him loose.
"Every situation is absolutely different. Often times you find that long-held theories and beliefs don’t always hold true depending on the squad, so you’re looking at that," Caldwell said. "Sometimes, you have a player that you consider of more value to you at another spot that you’d like to keep.
"So, therefore maybe you take one less quarterback or you figure that there’s a quarterback that’s really been doing extremely well and we’d like to have him as our third and he can help us. So, you have to make a decision based on that."
What could influence Detroit's decision with Moore is the NFL's new practice squad rules. With the addition of two spots and the exemption where two practice squad players can have up to 32 games of experience, this leaves a spot on the squad possibly available for Moore.
If the Lions release him and he clears waivers, they could place him on the practice squad as an emergency quarterback -- essentially the same role he had his first two years in the league when he was on the 53-man roster. Or Detroit could keep him on the roster or release him with no intention of bringing him back.
If the Lions go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, Caldwell said the Lions have contingency plans for emergency quarterbacks on the roster, but declined to say who they would be.
And now, on to Lions news from around the Interwebs:
- Golden Tate, motivational speaker. Some odds on Lions players from Vegas. This year's Lions preview. The preview for every team in the league. Detroit is taking its time to make sure its screen game is perfected.
- Kevin Ogletree is in a fight for a roster spot, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News gives 10 things to watch Thursday night.
- The Lions will be judged on three simple things, writes Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com.
Previous Questions of the Week.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- We all remember the first time we did something we loved, whether it was playing a sport, reading a book or participating in a hobby.
For the Lions, the first football memory can be an important one. In some cases, it can teach a lesson. In others, it brings laughter of memories when everything about the game was innocent and new.
So the question for this week: What is your first football memory?
Wide receiver Jeremy Ross: "When I played for the San Francisco Seahawks, Pop Warner. Caught a touchdown. I think I ran probably a 12-yard hook route. Caught it with my body like boom, spun to my left. I got a real good memory. I was nine years old."
Wide receiver Kris Durham: "First one playing, when I was 7, there was an 8-,9- and 10-year-old league and my uncle was one of the coaches. He would let me come, it was almost like a redshirt year, he would let me come and practice with them. He would let me go out there and I would have to take my licks, my bumps and bruises and he’d get me out there. He got me out there and practiced with the whole team and got my own jersey. It was the Cowboys. Just the Cowboys. In Calhoun, Georgia."
Offensive guard Rodney Austin: "Just remember going to my big cousin’s football games when I was little and playing with all the other kids who were too small to be out there or too young to be out there and just begging my mom to put me on the team and just letting me go. The next year, I was out there. I was five or six years old in St. Louis. I was one of the bigger kids. I ended up starting to play before they really allowed starting to let kids play. I was so big that I was six and I was starting on the seven-eight year old team. It was pretty awesome."
Right tackle Corey Hilliard: "I’m from New Orleans, so it would have to be something with the Saints. Probably my dad just yelling at the TV. That might not be true. In ’92 the Saints actually went to the playoffs. They actually had a good year that year. I was seven or six. That’s probably the earliest memory I have of the Saints. I was big into kicking things, so I liked the punter, Tommy Barnhardt. Pat Swilling, Rickey Jackson, those guys. Bobby Hebert, those guys, too."
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky: "Probably the first football memory that sticks in my head is my dad just teaching me the game. I originated in flag football and one of the first memories that sticks out, I was playing quarterback in flag football. I threw it and I think I was eight, someone smacked my arm and I remember tearing up and my dad kind of taking me behind a car and talking to me about it. Kind of verbalizing expressing toughness and how there was a big difference between being hurt and being injured. In that moment, changing my view on what it was to be tough and how it was to be tough for your teammates. Mainly just my dad teaching me."
Cornerback Rashean Mathis: "When I was younger and my grandmother wouldn’t let me play football because she said I was too small. That was the first thing I have. The other memory that sticks out the most, I was in the 10th grade and my brother was in the 12th grade and he was the star of the football team. He told me that I should quit because I wasn’t taking football seriously. That triggered something in me and I started taking football seriously after that."
Right guard Larry Warford: "I was playing flag football as a running back. I used to be a running back. Then I got meningitis and I couldn’t play anymore. Real talk. I got spinal meningitis and couldn’t play anymore. I was in second grade, I think. It was crazy."
Reporter: You know you can die from that, right?
Warford: "Yeah, I learned that in 2008. I didn’t know how serious it was until I was 16 or 17. I was talking to my uncle about it and he said, 'You know you can die from that, right?' I was like ‘What?’ "
Reporter: Did you do anything as a running back?
Warford: "I had a 70-yard touchdown run called back because I stiff-armed a little kid. I didn’t know you couldn’t do that. I straight bodied that kid. After that, I got meningitis. I only played like two games of the six-game season."
Offensive tackle Michael Williams: "My very first touchdown. I actually played running back and my mom missed the previous game so I came back and I knew she missed the game so I told her that I scored. I didn’t score, though. It was just a joke. So she comes to the next game and in my mind, I’m like, I have to score. So I scored. That was how it went. I was seven. The Pickens County Tornadoes."
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn: "My first year in little league in Memphis. I played for the North Memphis Chiefs. I was a D-end, six years old. D-end. I got a little faster, played a little quarterback. I just liked running the ball so I kind of migrated to the offensive side and it went from there. Full-tackle. Helmet, shoulder pads, all of that. We were out there tackling, man. Running real plays."
- The Lions ended their camp Saturday afternoon with a practice that lasted a little less than one hour with no pads at all and a lot of players in baseball caps catching passes -- including specialists Sam Martin and Don Muhlbach. Why would Lions coach Jim Caldwell bring the players out there less than 12 hours after they returned from a West Coast trip to Oakland?
“The practice was kind of to break a sweat and often times guys find out they have an injury that they didn’t know about,” Caldwell said. “So we run them a little bit, loosen it up a little and go through our corrections and get them off the field to get them some rest tomorrow and get back at it at Monday.”
- Once Monday hits, the Lions will go into their regular practice mode, which also means practices are also no longer fully open to reporters. He also did this Saturday practice to give players an idea of how days go with evaluation and film.
- The biggest topic again was defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who seemed more jovial Saturday than he was at any point last week. That’s probably a good sign for him and Caldwell indicated he felt he had improved during Friday night’s game against Oakland.
- Detroit did have a transaction Saturday, signing linebacker Shamari Benton out of Central Michigan and releasing linebacker Justin Jackson from Wake Forest. Benton had 111 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss, last season for the Chippewas. He also had four sacks and an interception. He apparently trained at a gym in suburban Detroit co-owned by Tony Scheffler and Ndamukong Suh. He was so new, the Lions didn't even have a jersey for him at practice Saturday.
- Caldwell also appeared to be pleased with backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, saying he “demonstrated that [Friday] night, but we still have two more games to go.” Orlovsky was markedly better than he was in the preseason opener, when he was outplayed by No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore. He appeared to regain his hold on the backup spot with his performance Friday night. Part of the backup quarterback’s job, Caldwell said, is to be a collaborator with starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
- Asked three of the Lions players who attended Notre Dame (there are five in all as Alex Bullard and Joseph Fauria started at the school and transferred to Tennessee and UCLA, respectively) about the academic investigation at their alma mater. TJ Jones said he knew little about it and wanted to hear more details. Theo Riddick declined to comment, but said he would speak with Notre Dame if the school reached out. Golden Tate, who did not play under current coach Brian Kelly, declined to comment.
For all of them, a good or bad performance can mean making the team or the practice squad. Here's a primer of who I'll be focusing on (from my couch, since I won't be in Oakland, but we can chat on Twitter):
1. RB George Winn: He's made some big plays during practice and in the preseason opener. Mentioned him in the earlier preview as well, but this could be his best chance to make a strong roster push. Theo Riddick should receive some of the carries that Winn might have otherwise seen since he missed most of the first preseason game, but Winn will get a long look. At this point, he's putting together an audition tape for the practice squad and trying to unseat Mikel Leshoure. The big thing to pay attention to with Winn -- special teams. If he pops up on a first-team special teams unit, that could be a major sign for him.
2. S Jerome Couplin: The Osprey was one of the most focused-on undrafted free agents because of his wingspan and nickname. Then he went out and made some big hits during the preseason opener and has been continually popping up in practice. The Lions are clearly taking a strong look at him, as they played him with the second team defense all week. If he makes a play or two Friday night, he may start to receive real roster consideration instead of a likely practice squad spot.
3. QB Kellen Moore: He put together a strong first performance but he'll need to do it more consistently to have a real shot. Frankly, he'll also need current No. 2 quarterback Dan Orlovsky to continue to struggle as well. But with a good opening game, Moore at least put himself in some conversation for a backup quarterback position on the team. If he gets some actual time with the No. 2 offense, that'll signal the Lions may be looking at it, too.
4. WR Kevin Ogletree: He has been really strong during camp, but had a bad drop in the opener against Cleveland. He should make the roster, although having a good performance against the Raiders wouldn't be a bad thing for him to put on film just to solidify what Detroit's coaches are seeing in practice.
5. WR Ryan Broyles: Like Moore and Winn, he had a good first game and appeared to have no setbacks from his Achilles injury last season. If he's healthy, he should make the roster. If he wants to do more than that, though, another good game would certainly help him here -- especially if he wants to try and push Ogletree for the No. 3 position.
6. DT Caraun Reid: The rookie from Princeton played well in his debut, making two plays in the backfield and showing he can handle the NFL. If he builds on this -- and there is little reason to think he won't -- he could end up being a larger part of the defensive tackle rotation than initially thought. Reid's spot on the team is safe.
7.CB Chris Greenwood: If the Lions keep six cornerbacks, the final spot will be a likely competition between Jonte Green, Drayton Florence and Greenwood. Green appeared to have the initial inside path to this spot -- and then he barely played in the preseason opener. Florence remains an intriguing candidate, but hasn't played much yet. Watch the snaps here, as Greenwood might end up pushing himself into the spot. A real outside candidate would be Mohammed Seisay, but he is probably a bit too raw for a roster spot just yet.
8.Kickers: I'll put Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio in the same spot here since they are two guys competing for one job. Freese appears to have the edge right now, although Tavecchio has been more consistent in practice. At this point, Tavecchio needs to continue to hit all his opportunities and probably needs Freese to miss a few to have a shot, but he has proven himself as a NFL kicker during this camp.
9. DT Nick Fairley: How many snaps will he get? How will he play in those snaps? Fairley is the most intriguing player on the Lions right now because of what occurred in practice last week. In what is expected to be limited snaps, will a motivated Fairley show up?
10. DE Larry Webster: Like Reid, Webster made a few plays in his debut. If he continues to do that, he could end up being a rotational factor this fall instead of being a pure developmental project for the Lions. His size, speed and build could turn him into a freakish defensive end once he figures everything out. Between him, Devin Taylor and Ezekiel Ansah, that could three high-caliber ends in a season or two.
1. Nick Fairley's status: The fourth-year defensive tackle has turned into the major storyline of Lions’ camp in the past week after a lackluster opening game against Cleveland and then an apparent demotion to the second-team defense during practice this week. There are a lot of concerns surrounding Fairley, who has had issues with his weight during his time with the Lions. After showing up in the spring and in training camp in good shape and at a good playing weight, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said he is again trying to find a comfortable playing weight. That can’t be a good sign for Fairley, who has an immense amount of potential but has been inconsistent throughout his career. That inconsistency led Detroit to decline his fifth-year option this offseason, making this a contract year. Watching where he lines up and how many snaps he plays Friday will be interesting.
2. Will Calvin Johnson play at all? At some point this preseason, the star wide receiver will take some preseason snaps with Matthew Stafford and the first unit. The question is whether it is this week in Oakland or next week against Jacksonville at home. Johnson shouldn’t need much work in the preseason as he has looked exceedingly sharp during training camp, making difficult catches with ease. There’s always a question of putting him out there and risking injury, but Caldwell made it sound like everyone will play a little bit during the preseason, so this might be the week Johnson makes a cameo.
3. Can George Winn and others make roster pushes? There are a few players who have played well enough to at least be considered surprises for roster spots after the first few weeks of camp. Winn, who has displayed a lot of power running during practices and the preseason opener, would be one. Jerome Couplin, the undrafted free-agent safety, has also been receiving a longer look during practices and lined up with the second unit this week. Same with veteran safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who had a good preseason opener. Abdul-Quddus was always on the roster bubble, but Winn and Couplin have made up significant room and at this point should be at worst heavy practice-squad candidates. In addition to those three, the Lions would likely want to see receiver Ryan Broyles have a second straight consistent game as he continues to come back from an Achilles injury. There’s also the backup quarterback situation. While Dan Orlovsky still has a hold on the No. 2 position, another strong performance from No. 3 Kellen Moore could push this into somewhat of a competition.
- The biggest news of the day, as covered here earlier, is Nick Fairley appearing to run with the second team. Fairley wouldn't talk about it. Jim Caldwell said it wasn't necessarily the second team -- although any defensive unit without Ndamukong Suh is likely not the first group -- and Fairley's replacement, C.J. Mosley, was pretty buttoned up in his answers. The one obvious thing was Fairley did not appear happy after practice. Considering how much attention was paid to him during the offseason and the team did not pick up his contract, this has to be at least a mildly discouraging sign for the Lions and something worth monitoring. Also worth monitoring -- Fairley's weight. He doesn't look quite as svelte as he did during the spring. The Lions are going to need him to be successful this season, there is not much question about that.
- In non-Fairley news, Detroit added music to its practice Monday afternoon to help prepare for crowd noise as the Lions head to Oakland for their second preseason game Friday. There wasn't a ton of it -- three songs including what sounded like “Planet Rock,” the 1982 classic by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force. Caldwell said the players are allowed to submit playlists for practice with one caveat: No profanity. “Obviously it creates some distraction for you. We were trying to do the same thing basically with the music,” Caldwell said. “One day here we had a Motown session. We have different music to try and accomplish the same thing. What we're trying to do is simulate crowd noise so they can't hear. They have to communicate a lot louder with one another. If it happens to be something that they like, they tend to catch the rhythm of it. But some things, obviously, I'm not quite certain what songs they were.”
- Matthew Stafford's interception-free streak during training camp ended with a thud of the hands Monday afternoon, as a ball from Stafford tipped off the hands of Brandon Pettigrew and right into the waiting arms of cornerback Bill Bentley, who might have had a pick-six had the Lions been wearing pads. The play was immediately followed up by another interception, this one from Dan Orlovsky that tipped off a leaping receiver's hands.
- Ryan Broyles had the offensive play of the day, jumping in the air to catch a ball thrown by Orlovsky. It showed just how much better Broyles feels now than a season ago, when he was still rehabilitating his torn ACL. Talked with Broyles a bit after practice about his mindset and where he is right now, so look for that Tuesday.
- There were some new faces missing from Lions' practice Monday. Larry Warford was not at practice at all -- and MLive reported it is an illness. I did not spot Ezekiel Ansah at practice. He may have been there, but the media's angle during indoor practices cuts off part of the closer sideline. He remains on the active PUP list. TJ Jones also remains on the active PUP list. Don Carey missed practice as well. When asked why he was out he said, “Everything's everything, baby. I'll talk to y'all later.”
- Actor Jeff Daniels showed up at practice Monday.
- The Lions return to practice Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET for a practice closed to the public but open to invited guests.
"Really, I looked up at the clock to see because I didn't know how much time was left," Moore said. "The big thing out of that is obviously the defense gets us the ball back. It's the biggest thing and after that, it's up to us to take advantage of it."
Moore did Saturday night. He lost the ball with 2 minutes, 41 seconds remaining. The defense gave him the ball back with 2:14 left. A minute and nine seconds later, the extra opportunity turned into a game-winning drive after a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller gave the Lions' a 13-12 win over the Browns.
This isn't a signal Moore is ready to pass Dan Orlovsky for the No. 2 spot on the Lions' depth chart. He completed 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards mostly against Cleveland's third unit, a group of players who likely won't be playing on Sundays this fall.
But it was a start and it did give at least a little bit of notice that Moore isn't completely ready to hand over the backup spot to Orlovsky.
"It's a long stretch that we've got going and everything," Caldwell said. "It's a competition. We'll take a look at it and see where that matches up and where that falls in due time. It's the first ballgame and you know how that is."
For the most part, it was imprecise. Moore's touchdown to Fuller -- which was thrown at a perfect angle and hit Fuller in stride in the end zone -- was the only touchdown of the game. Neither team was close to their best and this was a game where starters sat early, leaving the highest quality of football on the bench, as is usual in preseason games.
But it is also these times in which younger players can make an impression. If nothing else, Moore did.
"He's one of those guys that can predict the movements of the receivers and his balls don't seem like they have a lot of zip on it, but they always find their place," said Cleveland receiver Nate Burleson, who played with Moore for two seasons in Detroit. "I joked about him, saying he's psychic because he knows exactly where guys are and puts the ball where it needs to be and that's what I saw today. Same thing he did when I was here.
"He would drop the ball in a pocket that nobody saw but him and he would have that goofy childish smirk on his face like he did after the touchdown."
It is a smirk that reappeared again when he was replaying his performance on the field after the game. Moore may not play much, even in the preseason, but he is confident when he does.
Moore still has a long way to go to earn a roster spot, let alone beat out Orlovsky. And he consistently said Saturday he understands his role -- and if it ends up remaining as the No. 3 quarterback, so be it.
This is notable because in February, general manager Martin Mayhew said he hadn't seen enough of Moore to feel comfortable with him in the No. 2 role.
Moore knows he hasn't played much and has seen no regular-season snaps. Then he makes throws like he did to win Saturday.
"He's probably right. I haven't played a whole lot," Moore said. "Played some preseason games and that was about it and I think Dan [Orlovsky is] an awesome quarterback. I've learned a lot from him. When he's gotten chances to play in this league, he's played well.
"Whatever happens, happens. I'm not worried about it."
The third-year player from Boise State, who has been the No. 3 quarterback on the team since his rookie year, led a game-winning drive completed with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller with a little over a minute left Saturday night to give Detroit a 13-12 win over the Cleveland Browns.
While it will help Moore's case for a spot -- it was a perfect throw -- it might aid Fuller even more. Fuller beat his defender perfectly on the play and caught the ball in stride.
Fuller is in the midst of an intense competition at receiver and was the only player to score a touchdown.
Here are some other thoughts on the Lions' first preseason game of the year:
- It is only one game and the offense is obviously condensed, but the Lions have to hope Matthew Stafford stays healthy this season. Dan Orlovsky was average in his return to Detroit. He often settled for the checkdown, ended up on the run or waiting too long to make decisions. It would be interesting to know what his instructions were in the game. His passes also often looked off-target, even on shorter screens. Orlovsky was 12-of-23 for 89 yards and was sacked once.
- Montell Owens had a nice game for the Lions as he competes with Jed Collins and, theoretically, Mikel Leshoure, for a roster spot. While he didn't receive a carry, he had an excellent block pickup in the third quarter to buy Orlovsky time. In the first half, he had a massive special teams hit in kick coverage. He knows their way to a spot is through special teams and Owens is quite good at that facet of the game.
- The Lions appeared to use some 4-4 on defense. Not enough for it to be a base package, but enough for it to be noticed. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and players have mentioned the multiplicity of the defense often and that appears to be an early wrinkle unveiled.
- Drops again were a little bit of an issue on the first few series of the game while starters and key reserves were in there. On the flip of that, receiver Ryan Broyles looked fairly healthy in his first action since his Achilles injury last season. He caught three passes for 27 yards and made it through the game healthy. He's been pretty buried on the depth chart so far this summer and has to continue to have strong performances like Saturday to have a shot at a roster spot.
- Kicking data: Nate Freese made both of his field goals in the first half, although both were somewhat chip shots -- 33 and 37 yards. Meanwhile, Giorgio Tavecchio made the game-winning extra point. Freese and Tavecchio also handled kickoffs as the Lions try to keep Sam Martin's leg as fresh as possible for the season.
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 email@example.com.
Now, on to this week's queries:
Are the chances looking up for Kellen Moore after Dan Orlovskys bad showing this week? #LionsMailbag— Duncan Yager (@midwestmetsfan) August 7, 2014
@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.
Anyone look good to take kick returns if Ross gets hurt? The more Golden Tate can focus on being the #2 WR the better. #LionsMailbag— Mark (@StruttingStar) August 7, 2014
@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.
- Kind of a weird practice for the Lions on Friday as it was a hybrid of what Jim Caldwell said he tries to accomplish on Fridays and Saturdays. So the length was a bit longer than a typical walk-through, but players weren't in pads, there was no hitting and most things were done at a speed much slower than what anyone will see Saturday night. This is all pretty typical and a sign that actual football is close to happening for the 2014 season in Detroit. It was also the first practice of the season not open to either season-ticket holders or some portion of the general fan base, so an overall quiet morning of work.
- The better news for Detroit is the return of Eric Ebron and Calvin Johnson to practice Friday. Since Johnson missed Thursday as an excused absence, it wasn't too surprising to see him back on the field Friday. Ebron's return to the walk-through gives a little larger window to his potential debut Saturday night, but it'll still be a tricky call for Caldwell on how much to use him, depending on what his undisclosed injury was. Unlike a veteran such as Johnson, Ebron could use the work to familiarize himself with the offense and the pace of the NFL as a rookie. Joique Bell missed Friday's practice for "personal reasons," per Caldwell.
- An area of concern for Detroit at this point might be Ezekiel Ansah. It would be stunning if Ansah played Saturday night considering he is still on the active physically unable to perform list, and days of practice to get him up to speed both physically and mentally with the new defensive scheme are starting to dwindle. The positive for Ansah is he keeps working on the side with athletic trainers and appears to be moving well when he does this, but until he is medically cleared and practices for a few days with his teammates, it's unclear how far behind he may be. He is a critical part of Detroit's defense this fall as he is expected to occupy the open defensive end spot that will have many pass rushing responsibilities. It is where Ansah thrived his rookie season, but at some point the Lions need to see him on the field.
- Caldwell discussed the backup quarterback situation earlier this week and it sounds like there are no minds made up on the No. 3 quarterback slot -- or whether the Lions will carry three quarterbacks at all. At this point, if the team kept three on the 53-man roster, that third quarterback would almost definitely be Kellen Moore, but unless things change drastically, he won't be the No. 2 quarterback. James Franklin is still a major question mark, but from the limited amount he has shown, he is a long way from contributing to an NFL team. At this point, his best shot of sticking would be if the Lions kept two quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky) and keeping him as a major developmental project on the practice squad. It'll be interesting to see what happens during preseason games, though, where he should get some snaps.
- The Lions don't practice again until Monday -- playing Cleveland in the preseason opener Saturday before an off day Sunday.
He didn’t know for sure, though, there would be none at all.
For a player trying to win a spot as the No. 3 quarterback on the 53-man roster or the practice squad, Franklin had a bit of a detriment to making the team.
There was so much to pick up. There was so little time to accomplish it. This was the biggest issue for the former Missouri quarterback, who, prior to May said he had never truly taken a five-or-seven-step drop during his time with the Tigers.
Missouri played a spread system, so everything he did came off a three-step drop or a little shuffle of his feet. There wouldn’t be a pocket created for him, per se, with the Tigers. These were things he had to learn fast, so he understood that until he picked them up, he wasn’t going to move past Dan Orlovsky or Kellen Moore into receiving actual snaps while those two quarterbacks were also learning the offense.
Franklin knew this would be an issue as he entered the league, even as he jumps into a system that will likely employ a lot of shotgun and some elements of the spread offense without the quarterback running.
Even though he didn’t actually take a meaningful offseason snap -- and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Franklin will receive the majority of snaps during preseason games -- Franklin began to understand the importance of staying in the pocket to help the offensive line protect him.
The learning, though, went beyond improving and adjusting his footwork to drop back correctly. It also hit on the plays themselves.
“I’ve definitely been going over the plays over and over, reciting the plays, because learning the plays isn’t actually that bad,” Franklin said. “It’s just the long play calls that I have to be getting used to. That’s something I think I’ve gotten a little bit better at and hopefully I won’t worry about it too much so I can just go out there and play football.”
Franklin said reciting play calls is his biggest concern entering camp, in part because like the new drops he has never done it before. His offense at Missouri was run using signals and short calls. This was his biggest immediate transition during rookie minicamp and continued to follow him throughout the spring.
The spring was for learning, though. Now, he has to win a job.
“I wish we could have done some more of (play calls) in college to kind of prepare me, but I can’t make excuses now,” Franklin said. “I just have to work with what I have.”
And hope that what he has is good enough.