The competition to become quarterback Matthew Stafford’s backup this fall is heating up in Allen Park now that OTAs have begun.
Tom Savage and Connor Cook were signed in free agency earlier this offseason and are vying for the job.
Savage played the 2014-17 seasons with the Houston Texans, where new Lions quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan was his position coach in 2017. He made nine starts and completed 58 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He split time last season between Cincinnati and San Francisco, but did not appear in a game.
Cook appeared in one regular season game for Oakland in 2016 and started a playoff game that season after starter Derek Carr broke his leg Week 16. Cook completed 18 of 45 passes for 161 yards with three interceptions in the playoff game, a 27-14 loss to Houston.
He spent the 2017 season with the Raiders but did not appear in a game. He was released by Oakland last September after the team traded for A.J. McCarron. Cook then spent time on the practice squads of Carolina and Cincinnati last season. The Lions saw Cook up close last August when they spent two days in training camp practicing against the Raiders.
“Obviously, it’s all about competition, and they’re all kind of in the same boat, which is kind of nice from that perspective,” head coach Matt Patricia said Tuesday of the backup quarterback position.
Savage and Cook have started the spring on equal footing because they’re both learning coordinator Darrell Bevell’s new offense. How quickly they pick up the language, the checks and the protections will be part of the evaluation process. The one who does it better is likely to play the best come training camp and the preseason. How they break down opponents and what they offer Stafford from a preparation standpoint during the week is also part of the equation.
“Certainly from the skillset standpoint, trying to evaluate all of them from how they handle themselves in the huddle to the play-calls to the line of scrimmage, checks, adjustments, the throws, different pocket presence, different footwork that’s associated with the different offensive system,” Patricia said.
“All of that has to be taught and learned and evaluated at a high level. It’s a great competition for those guys. (Tom) Savage has obviously been in the League and kind of been around a little bit. He’s been a great professional, and Connor Cook’s the same. He’s been in a couple of different situations, but has really just come in and tried to work hard every single day.”