Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing the Detroit Lions entering training camp, which begins at the end of July. A reminder – unless a player is an entrenched starter, so much of what will happen over the next month or so will be entirely fluid as players attempt to make an NFL roster.
Starter: Matthew Stafford
Likely roster spots: 2-3.
What to expect in camp: Unlike the past few seasons, expect Stafford to take more reps than a usual entrenched starter throughout the course of training camp. A lot of that has to do with the Lions still installing and learning a new offensive scheme under Joe Lombardi, along with having missed a decent chunk of time with new No. 2 wide receiver Golden Tate during spring workouts. Stafford and Tate will need some reps to get their timing down and the Lions would probably want to have that happen during practice instead of in games, where both players would be left open to potential unnecessary injury.
Behind Stafford is where it becomes interesting for the Lions over the next few weeks. Orlovsky is the backup and barring injury should be the No. 2 quarterback due to his combination of experience, trust head coach Jim Caldwell has in him and the Lions’ lack of experienced options behind him. Plus, he could serve as a good role model/mentor for Stafford, much like Shaun Hill was in the past before he moved on to St. Louis.
The third spot, right now a competition between Moore and Franklin, could be one of the more underrated battles in camp. Moore has more experience than Franklin, an undrafted rookie, but has yet to play in a regular-season game in his first two seasons in the league. Detroit won’t keep both of them, but could definitely hold on to one. Franklin didn’t take a single team snap during spring workouts but Caldwell said the majority of his action will come during camp and preseason games. If he handles that well, he could make the roster (or practice squad). If not and the Lions want a third quarterback, they’ll stick with Moore or search for another arm.
What Detroit needs to see: First, no injuries to Stafford. Along with Calvin Johnson, those are the two Lions players on offense who need to remain healthy throughout the preseason. Second, they need to see smart decisions from him as he continues to pick up the offense. He likely will still make some mistakes during whatever preseason action he has, but they need him to be smart and throwing on time and on target.
Beyond Stafford, seeing Orlovsky have a strong camp could relax fears of the fan base – a group that remembers him as much for the 2008 season as anything else he has done. A good performance or two from him could also lead to less questioning about whether Moore should be ahead of him on the depth chart. As long as the top two quarterbacks are picking up Lombardi’s offense with relative ease, Detroit should feel confident in the talent level on the field at quarterback.