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Sunday, August 10, 2014
Moore grabs opportunity with TD pass

By Michael Rothstein

DETROIT -- The ball had just hit off his knee inside the red zone, one of the few times the Detroit Lions had a drive actually moving at all Saturday night. Then a bad snap. A ball Kellen Moore just couldn't quite reach.

A turnover.

It seemed like an opportunity lost for the Lions' No. 3 quarterback, the player who is now in his third season with Detroit without a regular-season appearances. For a player with limited reps in practices and games to begin with, it should have been reason to fret.

"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."