NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2 CLE at DET

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.

Moore
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."

Observation Deck: Cleveland Browns

August, 10, 2014
8/10/14
12:50
AM ET
DETROIT -- Put a seven-win team and a four-win team on the field for the first practice game of the preseason and the result probably won't be pretty.

The Cleveland Browns' preseason opener Saturday against the Detroit Lions fit the expectation.

Neither team's starting units did much that stood out, as the old "Great Lakes Classic" turned into a field-goal fest.

Detroit fans got to cheer at the end, as Kellen Moore picked apart the Browns' reserves to give the Lions the game-winning touchdown with 1:05 left. Detroit won 13-12.

Some other thoughts on the Browns' first preseason game of the year:
  • Coach Mike Pettine said no decision has been made on the starting quarterback in the second preseason game in Washington. Brian Hoyer started the first game, and there is much speculation that Johnny Manziel will start Week 2. At this point, it might be interesting to see Manziel operate against and with starters. Hoyer had success against Detroit's second-team defense, which is what should happen. If Manziel could get time against the starters, it would give him one more chance to prove he belongs.
  • The varying and different blitzes that Pettine's scheme will use were in evidence early, as two exotic blitzes on third down contributed to ending Detroit drives. On the first, safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback Isaiah Trufant combined to rush Matthew Stafford. On the next, Trufant came free amidst the trees on the line and forced a bad Dan Orlovsky pass. Pettine has said plays will be designed in different games to feature different blitzers, and this night seemed to feature the defensive backs.
  • Manziel kept the ball and came up short on a read-option run on his first possession of the game. The third-and-1 play looked ugly, and Manziel said the problem was the initial "mesh" with the running back (Terrance West) was poor, which "threw our timing off a little bit."
  • Donte Whitner has promised that coming over the middle against the Browns will be a punishing experience. He proved that in the first quarter with a clean but tough hit on running back Theo Riddick. The shoulder-to-chest hit sent Riddick to the sidelines for the rest of the night. Whitner was not flagged, but he later complained to the officials when the Browns' MarQueis Gray was hit well after a pass sailed past him. "I feel like if it were me, I'd have gotten the flag," Whitner said. He said he has to play with a target on his back, placed there by the officials. "Especially since I wanted to change my name to Hitner," he said.
  • Josh Gordon did not play after Hoyer's last pass in the back of the end zone sailed through his hands. Pettine said he "got nicked." ... Guard John Greco had a highlight-reel block, peeling back to de-cleat Darryl Tapp. ... WR Charles Johnson helped himself with some catches and good runs after the catch. ... Both inside linebackers made plays -- Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey. ... Of the defense, Whitner said, "Right where we need to be." ... Manziel was the Browns' leading rusher. ... Ben Tate averaged 4.2 yards per carry, West 2.2. ... Trufant showed why he will make the team, and why Pettine likes him so much. He plays in nickel situations, and he plays special teams. His hit on a kickoff coverage contributed to a Lions fumble that, after a review, officials determined was indeed a fumble and the ball belonged to Detroit.
DETROIT -- Kellen Moore doesn't have a Detroit Lions' roster spot locked up, but he might have made a good first impression on his new coaches.

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 29 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.
Several Cleveland Browns have been ruled out for Saturday night's preseason opener in Detroit. They are:
These players did not make the trip to Detroit: LB Darius Eubanks (shoulder), OL Reid Fragel (lower leg), OL Randall Harris (knee), LB Eric Martin (concussion), Alex Parsons (knee), NFI -- OL Nick McDonald (wrist).

Expected starting lineup changes:
  • TE Gary Barnidge will start at TE for Jordan Cameron
  • DL Phil Taylor will start at RE for Billy Winn
DETROIT -- The Detroit Lions are not going to risk their star on Saturday night.

Calvin Johnson has been deemed inactive by the team for the preseason opener against Cleveland. He is one of three Lions who have been ruled out, joining defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and wide receiver TJ Jones, who are on the active PUP list.

Starting for Johnson will be receiver Kris Durham, who inherited a starting spot last season after an injury to Nate Burleson, who is in town now with the Browns.

Devin Taylor, who is also competing for the starting spot at closed defensive end with Jason Jones, will start at open defensive end.

 

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