O'HARA: Kellen Moore a contender for backup QB job

Posted Jun 18, 2015

There are indications that the No. 2 job behind starter Matthew Stafford could be up for grabs, and Kellen Moore's performance makes him a true contender.

Kellen Moore headed into the locker room after the Lions’ last minicamp practice of the spring with two footballs tucked under his left arm.

The organized portion of the offseason workout program has ended, and the next official gathering of players won’t be until quarterbacks and assorted other players report to training camp in the last week of July.

Kellen MooreQB Kellen Moore (Photo: Detroit Lions)

It won’t be all fun and leisure until then, which is why Moore took the footballs home to Boise.

“For work,” he said.

Moore can see ways that he has improved his status on the Lions’ quarterback depth chart since the end of last season.

One is the two-year contract he got when he re-signed with the Lions on March 6 before he was eligible to hit the market as a restricted free agent. It included a signing bonus of $340,000, which is a sizeable amount for a player who spent the previous three seasons as the No. 3 quarterback and was not active for a regular-season game.

Money’s nice, but what surely means more to Moore is the increase in practice time he has gotten running the offense in the offseason program.

“Maybe in the reps I’ve gotten,” Moore said. “That’s about it. I’ve gotten a few more reps, obviously. Other than that, I don’t think it’s too different. That’s a good thing here. Nothing really changes. Everything is consistent.”

There are indications that the No. 2 job behind starter Matthew Stafford could be up for grabs for the first time since 2010, when Shaun Hill arrived to hold the job for four seasons. Dan Orlovsky was signed to be the backup last year after Hill left for the Rams as a free agent and was re-signed to a one-year contract for 2015.

Garrett Gilbert, claimed on waivers last week from the Patriots, is the fourth quarterback on the roster.

Head coach Jim Caldwell has seen a progression in Moore’s performance that makes him a contender for the backup job.

“What we’ve seen from him is kind of what we anticipated when you have a guy that has the talent and anticipation that he does,” Caldwell said.

“He’s improved. He’s gotten better. It’ll be a nice battle, I think, to see what happens. I think he’ll be right in the thick of things. He has a good understanding of our offense, as well. He has some unusual traits. He’s getting better all the time.”

All three quarterbacks from last year are benefitting from having a year’s experience in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s system.

“Everyone understand all the core concepts,” Moore saied. “We can speak the language now. So much of it last year was trying to memorize the way the plays were called. In many ways, that was the challenge. Now we understand all that. We understand the lingo. It’s just going out there and operating.

“Initially, when you look at the playbook, there are so many concepts and plays in there that it can be overwhelming. But at the same time you understand there’s a core set of concepts that are kind of the staple. You master those and learn the others along the way.”