Orlovsky leverages experience into backup role with Lions

BY foxsports • September 5, 2016

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Dan Orlovsky and Jake Rudock had very similar statistics in the preseason. Orlovsky will begin the season as the Detroit Lions backup quarterback, though, and there's one number that might have been the difference.

Orlovsky has 12 years of NFL experience, and that's a dozen more than Rudock, a rookie out of Michigan.

''He's certainly one of those guys that's been around, understands the league, understands what he sees from a defensive standpoint,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ''He's played in games, has experience under his belt. There's a number of different things. He's an outstanding leader, just to name a few.''

Orlovsky got the nod over Rudock even though there was little difference in their preseason performance. Orlovsky was 33-of-56 passing for 338 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Rudock was 30 of 51 for 333 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

''We take everything into consideration, practice, games, meetings,'' Caldwell said. ''That evaluation is wide and broad, just not a couple different instances.''

Orlovsky's experience was a leg up, but he has also seen enough to know his veteran status wouldn't guarantee the backup job.

''I don't ever take it for granted,'' Orlovsky said. ''I don't ever take it lightly. It's a big responsibility and it means a lot to me. I worked for it but it wasn't like a surprise or anything. It was my expectation level and like I said, getting ready for Week 1 and go about my business.''

Rudock, a sixth-round draft pick, was cut and then signed to the Lions' practice squad, where he can practice without the pressure of having to enter the game if something happens to starter Matthew Stafford.

''He'll be fine,'' Orlovsky said of Rudock. ''What he's done is progress. That's what you expect and hope him to do is progress. He just needs to continue to do that and take advantage of this year of learning how to do it. There is a big difference between preseason and regular season.''

Now the onus is on the Lions' young offensive line to protect Stafford.

First-round pick Taylor Decker is at left tackle; Travis Swanson is entering his third season, his second as starting center; left guard Laken Tomlinson has one year of experience; right guard Larry Warford is starting his fourth season; and right tackle Riley Reiff is the true veteran with four seasons under his belt.

''I feel like we're getting good cohesion going,'' Warford said. ''We're getting comfortable playing next to each other and I'm excited for it. We're still working out kinks, that's going to be an ongoing process. But I feel really good about this line.''

The five played as a unit during all of training camp and the preseason.

''They get accustomed to working with one another,'' Caldwell said. ''Get a good feel for one another. That takes time. It doesn't happen overnight, it takes time and then you couple that with the fact that some of those guys are going to be seeing some things for the first time.''

The Lions begin the season next Sunday at Indianapolis.

NOTES: TE Eric Ebron returned to practice for the first time since injuring his ankle during an intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 6 at Ford Field. C Graham Glasgow and T Corey Robinson also returned to practice. The only player not practicing was LB Jon Bostic (foot). ... The Lions announced the signings of WR Isaac Fruechte and LB Steve Longa to their practice squad. The team now has 10 players on the squad.


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