Lions’ progress on offense hard to judge
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) – When the Detroit Lions hired coach Jim Caldwell in the offseason, it seemed like a move designed to help Matthew Stafford.
And since Stafford only played one series in the team’s opening preseason game, it’s almost impossible to judge how well the Lions and their new staff are progressing.
“Our first time in live action – try not to look too much into it,” center Dominic Raiola said. “As a group, we wanted to establish a run game and protect our quarterback, and I thought we did a decent job of both.”
Stafford led the Lions to a field goal on that one drive Saturday, but Detroit didn’t do much offensively after that, winning 13-12 only after Kellen Moore and Corey Fuller – two players further down the depth chart – connected for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Friday night’s game at Oakland may reveal more.
“This is a two-part process, because forgetting everything I’ve learned in the last five years is just as important as embracing the new stuff,” Stafford said. “It’s tough, but I’m trying to get all the old stuff out of my head as soon as possible, so that I can really pick up everything we are doing now.”
One player Lions fans did get a good look at Saturday was Dan Orlovsky, who was brought back for another tour of duty with the team to be Stafford’s backup. Shaun Hill performed well in that role for the last four seasons.
Orlovsky played for the Lions in 2005, and he led the team in pass attempts during the winless 2008 season that set the stage for Stafford to be taken with the No. 1 pick in the draft in 2009.
Orlovsky went 12 of 23 for 89 yards against the Browns.
“Dan has a good feel for the offense, and I think obviously it was the first one for him within the system,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got a lot of time left yet, but I thought Dan did OK. Everybody would like to do better, I think.”
The Lions have had plenty of time this offseason to become familiar with their new system, and against Cleveland, Stafford looked fine in very limited duty. He was without his top target, since star receiver Calvin Johnson didn’t play.
Moore, who was below Orlovsky on the depth chart, went 11 of 13 for 121 yards and threw for the game’s only touchdown. It was an encouraging performance from the former Boise State star, who has never played in an NFL game.
“That guy has been making plays his whole life,” Stafford said. “Look at everything he did at Boise – all the stats he put up and all the wins – and he has stepped up every time he’s gotten a chance with the Lions. I see him in practice every day, so I know what he can do.”
NOTES: Caldwell was asked after Monday’s practice why DT Nick Fairley appeared to be working with backups. “We haven’t put out a depth chart yet,” Caldwell said. “We decide how we rep guys. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re one, they’re two, they’re three, or whatever it might be. It just depends on the situation, so don’t read a whole lot into it.” … Raiola says he likes Detroit’s approach to training camp so far this year. “We’re in pads every day, and I love it. It’s good for people learning their technique, getting used to the speed,” he said. “Camp is physical. This is what camp should be like.”