Kellen Moore takes a big step

You weren't alone last summer if you questioned whether Kellen Moore was an NFL-caliber quarterback, let alone if he deserved a spot on a Detroit Lions' roster that seemed primed for a playoff run. Backing the league's decision not to draft him, Moore appeared weak-armed and a step slow in his 2012 preseason outings.

So go ahead and knock me and everyone else over with a feather. Moore has looked like a different player this summer, throwing confidently and with better velocity and accuracy this summer. He beat out Thaddeus Lewis for a No. 3 job that I presume will be part of the Lions' 53-man roster, and by most accounts has improved enough to be considered a potential No. 2 quarterback behind Matthew Stafford as early as 2014.

In three preseason games this summer, Moore has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (20 of 30) for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn't committed a turnover or taken a sack, and has a 110.8 passer rating. He is expected to get the majority of playing time in Thursday night's preseason finale at the Buffalo Bills.

"He's a very improved player," Lions coach Jim Schwartz told reporters. "He has played well when given the opportunities and has improved a lot from over the course of the season last year, but then particularly in our offseason program and training camp. In all facets his understanding of our offense, his understanding of what defenses do, and also physically, he's improved."

I suppose it's possible the Lions might try to sneak Moore through waivers if they need his roster spot during final cuts this weekend. But it sure doesn't sound like Schwartz wants to expose him, and talking him up in that fashion will only draw further attention from other teams in a quarterback-starved league.

The Lions' likeliest scenario is to keep Moore in the capable hands of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing for at least one more year as current backup Shaun Hill approaches the expiration of his contract. Hill, 33, isn't thought to be considering retirement. But Moore has developed into a cheaper alternative if it comes to that. Who would have thought it? Not me.