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O'HARA: Improvisation one of Rudock's strengths

Jake Rudock could laugh about an improvised play that resulted in a touchdown pass Wednesday, and also at suggestions that the play was something that he has added to his "arsenal" – someone else's term, not his -- in his second season with the Detroit Lions.

All kidding aside, it isn't a joking matter for Rudock that he is in a training camp competition with rookie Brad Kaaya to be the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Matthew Stafford. Building a career is serious business for Rudock.

After being drafted in the sixth round last year after a college career at Iowa and Michigan, he spent the first 11 games on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster for the last five regular-season games and the playoffs.

With veteran backup Dan Orlovsky not returning – and signing with the Rams – Rudock has the inside track on the backup job. Every play that demonstrates how he has developed and improved is important, but there is room for light-hearted moments.

Talking about the TD pass to running back Zach Zenner was one of them. Rudock had a spirited exchange with the media after Wednesday's practice when he was  asked how he improvised to get the ball to Zenner in a red-zone drill near the end of practice.

Rudock's pass was more like a basketball play – a point guard hitting the open man – than something out of a football playbook.

For Rudock, it was a case of doing whatever it took to find a crease in the defense and get the ball to an open receiver.

"You try to manipulate guys with your eyes a little bit," Rudock said. "I don't know if we got that on film. We had to run inside. It was pretty cool."

It might not have been caught on video for posterity. A thunderstorm forced the last portion of practice to be run in the indoor facility.

Did Rudock use an old-fashioned two-hand chest pass?

"One hand ... what are you talking about?" Rudock said, sounding slightly wounded. "A perfect release. Get it out."

Another writer asked if the shovel pass was new to his arsenal.

"My arsenal?" answered Rudock, more focused on versatility than weaponry. "That seems like way too far out there. You've got to be able to try to do different things that are kind of weird.

View photos from the fourth practice of 2017 Detroit Lions training camp.

"You see Stafford throw some crazy type of throws sometimes. I guess that's in his arsenal, as you put it. You're just trying to make a play. Honestly, just try to get it to the athletes."

Rudock's animated reaction after Zenner got to the end zone showed that he liked the result.

"It was cool – a cool way to end it," Rudock said. "I kind of spun around to find somebody – get it to somebody who's much better running to the end zone."

Head coach Jim Caldwell liked the way Rudock was able to improvise.

"It's helpful," Caldwell said. "That's one of his strengths. I think he's probably a little bit faster and a little more athletic than one might think. Movement is always good."

What also was good for Rudock was directing the No. 1 offense in the red-zone drill.

"That's great," he said. "For sure, they're reps you can't replace. You don't always get them. You've got different guys in front of you. You learn kind of how they like to block. How they feel in the pocket. See how guys run out."

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