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NOTEBOOK: Why backup QB competition is important to Stafford

Matthew Stafford has proven to be an iron man at the quarterback position by not missing a start over his last seven seasons. That's 112 consecutive regular season starts, and 115 counting the playoffs.

It's not often Stafford's backup is called upon for game action on Sundays. Nonetheless, it's a position that's very valuable behind the scenes during the course of the week, especially to Stafford. That's why Stafford has a vested interest in the current competition between Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock to be his backup in 2018.

The work done in the film and meeting rooms by the backup has been extremely valuable to Stafford over the years. When asked Tuesday about the competition, Stafford gave a little behind-the-scenes glimpse into why that person is so valuable to him. The Lions have kept just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster the last couple seasons.

"I can't watch every snap of every game that a team has played for the last however many years," Stafford said. "There's just not enough time in the day. Being able to get a separate set of eyes on some tape and some ideas and thoughts, maybe guys played against a guy in college or played against him two years ago in the pros or was on his team. All that stuff is information that is relevant and can help."

Stafford will sometimes assign some games to his backup to get a different set of eyes on the opposing defense, and maybe get a little bit different perspective on something they can attack. He's talked in the past about how valuable former backup Dan Orlovsky was in that regard.

Football is a matchups game, and any little bit of information that helps gain an edge is information well received, especially for the quarterback.

While Cassel and Rudock battle it out on the field in the preseason to see who could step in and better help this team win football games in the event something happens to Stafford, what they do behind the scenes in terms of game prep and film study is an equally important part of the evaluation process.

"Their preparation, their professionalism, how they attack the day, the daily game plan, the weekly game plan, how they prepare themselves, is definitely all part of the evaluation," head coach Matt Patricia said of the current quarterback competition.


Patricia believes in building up playing time for the starters throughout the course of the preseason, with the third preseason game being the heaviest workload for those units.

It's expected that the starters on both sides of the ball will get a decent workload in Tampa Bay, but Patricia isn't setting anything in stone.

"You don't really put a cap on it," Patricia said. "I don't think you want to do that because it just depends on how the game goes. So, you don't want to walk in and say, hey, we're going to play this amount of time. And then the game goes a different direction and you don't, and everyone asks you, Why? Well, it's because the game changed.

"So, you just have an idea that you'd like to see a little bit of a longer play time if you can. There are some situations that come up, whether it's maybe the change of quarter, change of half, anything that you think you need to do to prepare for regular season type of mode to get them ready to go. Your opportunity to do that is right now."

Friday's game against the Buccaneers will be televised nationally on CBS with a 8 p.m. kickoff.


Veteran kicker Matt Prater is widely regarded as one of the biggest pranksters on the roster. He was back at it again Tuesday, with members of the media getting involved.

Prater was walking around the locker room during the open session with a set of fake lighters in his hands that provided a small shock to the unsuspecting holder. He asked the media if they enjoyed cigars, and wanted an extra lighter he picked up.

Not naming any names, but I saw at least a couple people get a little jolt to wake them up.


The Lions were back on the practice field Tuesday in preparation for Friday's preseason game in Tampa. Not taking part in the portion of practice open to the media for a second straight day were: Guard T.J. Lang, wide receiver Andy Jones (PUP), defensive tackle Toby Johnson and wide receiver Jace Billingsley.

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