Jake Rudock had a nice three-touchdown performance running the third-team offense in the preseason finale against Buffalo last week. He finished the four preseason games with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 96.3.
Orlovsky, who is entering his 12th NFL season, threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns this preseason, and finished the exhibition season with one touchdown and a 67.4 passer rating.
However, the preseason games are just a small snippet of the overall evaluation process for Lions coaches and front office personnel.
"We take everything into consideration," Caldwell said Monday when asked about the roster decisions at quarterback. "That evaluation is wide and broad, just not a couple different instances."
There was an entire offseason of work to consider: 38 total practices and walkthroughs through the course of training camp, and hours upon hours of classroom work.
In the end, after all of that was put together and evaluated, the Lions chose to enter the season with Dan Orlovsky as Matthew Stafford's backup instead of Rudock. Rudock was waived during final cuts, but has since joined the practice squad and will further develop his skills there.
Orlovsky ran exclusively with the second-team offense in the preseason, while Rudock worked with the third unit. It worked out for the Lions that they get to keep Rudock on the practice squad.
The decision to make Orlovsky the backup, in part, was made because of his experience.
He played eight games and made five starts – finishing with a 2-3 record – with the Colts in 2011, when Caldwell was head coach and dealing with a tough season without the injured Peyton Manning.
"He's certainly one of those guys that's been around, understands the league, understands what he sees from a defensive standpoint," Caldwell said of Orlovsky. "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."* *
MAKING THEIR MARK
Defensive end Kerry Hyder and rookie undrafted cornerback Adairius Barnes making the regular-season roster is a perfect example of young players making the most of their opportunities.
We all saw what Hyder did vs. Buffalo in the preseason finale with three sacks, but he's apparently been showing out to Lions coaches long before that.
"Even last year one of the things the guys on defense will tell you is that when he was on the "Look Squad" that I would say very often, I'd say "we have to take a look at this guy," because every single week he finds his way into the backfield," Caldwell said.
"He was creating problems for us in practice. He just has this knack in terms of pass rush. He's not flashy. The guy just hustles. He's a guy with a high motor, he's got a high aptitude for the game and he finds a way. It's not just this year, it's last year's work, but then this year obviously he was able to perform pretty well for us."
Hyder lost 35 pounds this offseason with the help of his wife Jasmine, who was a member of Team USA for 2011 World Outdoor Championships running the 400m hurdles. The weight loss was in preparation for moving from defensive tackle to defensive end.
"I owe that to my wife," Hyder said Monday. "She runs track and made it easy for me to get on a good diet."
Hyder said he was playing cards and eating dinner at teammate Wallace Gilberry's house when he heard the news he'd made the roster.
As for Barnes, Caldwell had a number of superlatives to describe the rookie out of Louisiana Tech.
"Tough, young, developing, gritty," Caldwell said. "Eager to learn. Very, very determined guy that's got some ability, so we certainly like what we see, and he's young."
Second-year cornerback Quandre Diggs said Barnes has the best feet among all the Lions defensive backs.
KEEPING FOUR RECEIVERS
The Lions decided to head into the season a little light at receiver with four players – Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin and Andre Roberts – on the 53-man roster.
The waiving of TJ Jones and the his subsequent placement on the practice squad was somewhat surprising.
The fact that running back Theo Riddick, who caught 80 passes last season, can catch passes out of the backfield, could have played a factor. The same goes with running back Ameer Abdullah's abilities as a pass catcher.
In deciding Roberts over Jones and some of the other receivers the team waived on Saturday, Caldwell liked the overall breadth of his game.
"He's got hands, tough, runs well, good route runner, aware and he also has special teams value," Caldwell said. "The time he was here with us, he did an exceptional job."
Linebacker Jon Bostic was the only member of the roster who sat out the portion of practice open to the media on Monday.
Center Graham Glasgow, tackle Corey Robinson and tight end Eric Ebron all took part in individual drills after sitting out practice the last couple weeks.