Quarterback James Franklin struggled at first reciting play calls for the Lions because he relied more on hand signals from his coach in college. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — After training camp Monday, Lions undrafted rookie quarterback James Franklin threw passes to tight end Joseph Fauria.
Although the extra work was Fauria’s idea, Franklin was happy to oblige because, so far in camp, he hasn’t had nearly enough reps to prove himself.
Matthew Stafford and the first-team offense have been practicing the most while implementing new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme. Veteran Dan Orlovsky has been the quarterback for the second team and Kellen Moore is leading the third team, which has left Franklin with sporadic snaps on the fourth unit and scout team.
With the limited work in practice, Franklin will have to perform well during the exhibition games, but he doesn’t know how much he’ll play Saturday against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field.
“I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens,” he said.
Franklin, a dual-threat signal caller who started at Missouri the past three years, said he hasn’t been frustrated by the lack of reps thus far in camp. When he’s on the sideline, he takes mental reps and watches plays as if he were in and had to make decisions.
Part of the reason Franklin hasn’t been able to split time with Moore, who’s entering his third season with the Lions, was because of his initial struggles reciting the plays, but he said his command of the offense is improving.
“At first it seemed like the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Franklin said. “It seemed so complex. But once you understand the play, where everyone’s supposed to be, what they want to get done, it’s a lot easier to remember.”
Franklin studied the playbook during the month off between the offseason program and camp and said something clicked that has helped him understand the calls. At Missouri, Franklin and his coaches used hand signals to relay plays, and he thinks the growing use of hand signals and signs in college football could make the jump to the NFL more difficult for some quarterbacks.
“It definitely stinks,” Franklin said. “There’s no excuses about it, but you just have to learn how to adjust. And that’s something that, going into the next level, you have to accept that challenge. And if you can get it, that’s good; if not, it just takes us a lot practice.”
If he plays Saturday, a strong performance from Franklin could help him earn more reps next week, but Moore looks like the favorite for the No. 3 quarterback job, if the Lions keep one on the roster.
No matter what happens the rest of camp, Franklin’s approach won’t change.
“Just do the best I can, and if it works out, it works out,” he said. “If not, it doesn’t. I can only control what I can control, so that’s what I’m trying to focus on.”