BUFFALO – Quarterback Brad Kaaya said that Jim Bob Cooter installed more offense the first two days of his NFL career in Detroit than was installed all of last season in college at Miami, which is considered a complex college offense.
That gives Lions fans a good perspective of exactly what Kaaya was dealing with in transitioning from college to the pros.
It also no wonder then why second-year quarterback Jake Rudock has looked far and away more comfortable running the offense for most of training camp and the preseason than Kaaya has.
"I can tell you that he's grown and developed," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Kaaya Thursday. "The system is one that it's a real challenge for the guy in that position because it takes so much just in terms of the learning process. The mental part of it is taxing, but you can see he's got talent and those kinds of things. But I think in terms of a young quarterback, he made progress."
Enough progress to force the Lions to keep three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster? Probably not, but Kaaya said after Thursday's 27-17 loss to Buffalo that he hasn't even had time to stop for a moment and even think about that.
"I'm just in there each week trying to get my plays down and make sure I know the game plan," he said. "I'll let that be Coach Caldwell and Bob's (Quinn) decision. But, I'm just glad to be here."
Kaaya's last performance of the preseason was a mixed bag. He started out shaky and threw an interception in the Bills end zone. Running back Tion Green helped him out by turning a one-yard pass into a 74-yard touchdown, but Kaaya did lead a nice fourth-quarter drive that ended with his six-yard touchdown pass to Dontez Ford.
He finished 12-of-20 passing for 182 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble.
We'll see Sunday if it was enough to earn him a roster spot. At the very least, as long as he clears waivers, he's certainly in line for one of Detroit's 10 practice squad spots.
In the fourth preseason game, coaches first and foremost want to see bubble players step up to the moment and make plays. They want to see players separate themselves from the pack.
A close second on the list would probably be that they don't want to see anyone get hurt. The Lions sat all of their starters on offense and defense, including some key backups, but a few players who could end up playing roles were either forced into action because of the numbers at their position, or because coaches simply wanted them to get some more reps.
Cornelius Lucas was one of those players, and unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury in the first half and didn't return.
Because of injuries to Taylor Decker (PUP) and Corey Robinson (PUP), and the release of veteran Cyrus Kouandjio earlier in the week, Lucas has emerged as the most experienced third tackle on the roster behind starters Greg Robinson and Rick Wagner. Depending on what happens over the weekend, he could be Detroit's swing tackle for next week's regular-season opener vs. Arizona.
The first injury report of the season comes out next Wednesday, so we'll see then if Lucas is on it and what kind of bind it might put the Lions in if he is.
CALDWELL ON TOMLINSON
The Detroit Lions parted ways with former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson on Thursday, trading him to the San Francisco 49ers for an undisclosed draft pick.
Tomlinson was on the roster bubble, having been passed on the depth chart by both Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl. The Lions decided if they could get something for him, it was time to move on.
Caldwell was asked after the game why it didn't work out in Detroit for Tomlinson.
"I'm not certain," he said. "He worked extremely hard for us and did a nice job, he did what we asked him to do and did the absolute best that he could. But hopefully things will work out for him elsewhere."