Allen Park — After a lackluster showing in the exhibition opener, Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky said he wasn’t feeling any pressure.
Kellen Moore, the No. 3 signal-caller, had a good game Aug. 9 against the Browns, which made some question whether Orlovsky’s role could as the backup could be in jeopardy.
All through practice last week, Orlovsky continued to work with the second team, shaking off the rough first outing. He bounced back on Friday night against the Raiders, going 8-of-12 for 153 yards, for a 109.7 quarterback rating.
That followed up on starting quarterback Matthew Stafford’s stellar performance of 9-of-10 for 88 yards and two touchdowns in just three possessions.
“When you’re seeing your teammates go out and play hard and play well, you want to carry it upon yourself to do the same thing,” Orlovsky said Saturday. “That’s important. You’re always trying to prove yourself to your coaches and your teammates. When your first-team offense goes out and executes the way they do, you want to do that in the same capacity.”
Orlovsky built on his pedestrian stats against the Browns, when he went 12-of-23 for 89 yards, for a 61.7 quarterback rating. Doing it against some of the Raiders’ starters was an added bonus.
“It was good to see us doing it again. They left their starters in for our first two series that we went against them,” he said. “It was good to do that and especially dig ourselves out of a little bit of a hole that drive before the second half and get points.
“It was good to follow (the first team).”
After throwing two incompletions and going three-and-out on the first possession, Orlovsky settled in, connecting on his next eight passes. On the next drive, he completed his next three passes — 4 yards to Patrick Edwards, 23 yards to Jeremy Ross and 34 yards to Ryan Broyles.
On third-and-14, Orlovsky was sacked, pushing the Lions to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which Nate Freese converted, for a 16-10 lead.
Orlovsky’s outing impressed coach Jim Caldwell.
“I’ve been around Dan. Dan’s a real competitor and he works extremely hard at his craft,” Caldwell said Saturday. “We know he has it in him to play and play well, and I think he demonstrated that last night, but we still have two more games to go in the preseason and see how things go.”
Orlovsky, in his seventh year overall — and second stint with the Lions — isn’t likely to see much playing time, if the last three years are any indication. Stafford hasn’t missed any games since 2010. Orlovsky’s previous time with the Lions was in 2005 (two games) and in ’08 (10 games, starting seven).
But Orlovsky isn’t aiming for Stafford’s job; rather, he’s just looking to solidify the backup role, which could be a dicey proposition, given that the Lions may only keep two quarterbacks on the final 53-man roster.
“The reality for me is I was a fifth-round pick, so I’ve been competing for a job since the time I was brought into this league. I think everyone has that mindset,” Orlovsky said.
The performance against the Browns was well in the rearview mirror for Orlovsky, who has learned throughout his career that each week’s performance is only a piece of the total package a backup can contribute.
“It’s the first week of preseason for a reason,” he said. “I watched the tape and I can see what we did well and what we didn’t do well. I didn’t walk away saying, ‘Oh my goodness, what am I doing?’
“We had four throwaways and three or four drops and we didn’t have any of those yesterday. That looks better, it executes better and you’re in more of a rhythm, which is nice. I didn’t walk away and I’m not going to walk away saying put me in Canton, Ohio (in the Hall of Fame), either.”
Because of his experience in backup roles in Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Houston before his return to the Lions, Orlovsky has a clear definition of what’s expected of him, both on and off the field.
“Not only with Matthew (Stafford), but with every guy in that room, Jim Bob (Cooter, QB coach) and Joe (Lombardi, offensive coordinator). Everybody kind of relies on him because of the fact that oftentimes there may be certain games in the breakdown,” Caldwell said.
“(The backup) is extremely important because oftentimes, he’s kind of eyes and ears. (The backup) sees around corners for (the starter) because he’s focused in on getting ready for the game and this guy comes up with all the other information.
“We utilize our second-team guy and our third-team guy that way. We put them to work, so it’s been beneficial for us through the years. There are a lot more things that are involved than just the play on the field.”