May 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Lions QB Kellen Moore will have to fight off James Franklin for third-string job

From left, Dan Orlovsky will enter camp as the No. 2 quarterback, leaving Kellen Moore and rookie James Franklin to fight it out for the third-string spot. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)

Allen Park — Lions quarterback Kellen Moore said he wasn’t paying attention this offseason as general manager Martin Mayhew discussed the need to add a proven backup behind Matthew Stafford.

He understands the need for competition.

“It’s the way it works,” Moore said of competition. “Everyone is going to bring in guys to compete, and that’s just the way it is. I think it helps out everyone.”

An undrafted free agent in 2012, Moore spent the past two seasons behind Stafford and Shaun Hill. And though Hill signed with the Rams during the offseason, Mayhew wasn’t ready to hand Moore the backup job.

“I haven’t seen enough of him in actual games to say that you just roll with him and you feel great about it,” Mayhew said at the combine. “He’s done a lot of things in practice that makes you feel like he’s very capable, so that’s kind of an open situation right now. We’ll get into free agency and see how free agency goes, and if we find the right guy at the right value, we’ll make a move there.”

Moore looked better during exhibitions last year than 2012, completing 62.5 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and one interception.

Still, the Lions signed Dan Orlovsky, reuniting with their 2005 fifth-round pick, and Missouri quarterback James Franklin as an undrafted rookie.

The Lions considered Orlovsky a good value on a one-year deal worth $920,000 because he has experience starting in addition to having ties to Detroit. He’ll enter training camp No. 2, with Moore and Franklin providing competition.

Moore is more polished as a passer and has significantly more experience under center than Franklin, who ran a spread offense at Missouri.

Though Moore has experience in a pro-style offense, he did try to improve his footwork this offseason because the offense led by new coordinator Joe Lombardi will have different dropbacks.

Franklin is more athletic, rushing for 1,613 yards and 21 touchdowns the past three seasons. Before the draft, Mayhew said a quarterback’s arm is the most important feature, but would like to have someone who could “sling it” and be athletic.

One thing that could hurt Moore’s future with the team is he was effectively a project for former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who was fired along with coach Jim Schwartz after last season. The Lions showed confidence in Moore last year when they kept him over Thad Lewis, whom they traded to the Bills. Lewis started five games for the Bills last year.

Lombardi and new quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter might want to have their own quarterback to mold, which could be Franklin. Keeping Franklin also could help Detroit prepare for athletic quarterbacks on the schedule, like Carolina’s Cam Newton and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.

“We’re all working well together, learning from each other, trying to help each other out, and I think just trying to become the best quarterback you can be,” Moore said. “I really don’t worry too much about anything. I’ll get an opportunity in preseason and see where that takes me.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com
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