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Orlovsky gets leg up on Moore for backup QB job

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Landover, Md. — Dan Orlovsky had little interest in discussing his ongoing competition with Kellen Moore as the Lions try to decide who will be Matthew Stafford’s top backup.

Stafford didn’t want to handicap the battle, either.

“I’m best friends with both of them; they’re best friends with each other,” Stafford said. “It’s a great atmosphere to be around, honestly. We never talk about (the competition). We just talk about being as good as we can possibly be.”

Eventually, though, the coaches will declare a winner, and after his performance Thursday night, Orlovsky has a clear advantage for the moment.

In a 21-17 loss to Washington at FedEx Field, Orlovsky finished 13 of 17 for 118 yards and the only two Lions touchdowns of the night. Much of Orlovsky’s yardage came after the catch, but considering Moore was 3 of 7 for 31 yards against third-stringers, the 11-year veteran clearly earned an edge.

Orlovsky won the backup job last year after re-signing with the team that drafted him in 2005, but with Moore entering his fourth season, the coaches have created a much more open competition than in 2014 as the two alternated working with the second- and third-team offenses in training camp. Moore worked with the second team in the first exhibition game. Orlovsky earned that nod this week and said losing some second-team work to Moore hasn’t impacted him.

“I feel like I’m a pretty self-motivated and driven person, so I just try and go work hard and do my job,” Orlovsky said.

Last week against the New York Jets, Orlovsky was 5 of 11 for 96 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t a great performance, especially against third-stringers, but was still statistically superior to Moore’s 9 of 17 for 67 yards and an interception.

Asked if Orlovsky has a “stranglehold” on the No. 2 job after his performance against Washington, coach Jim Caldwell noted that there are still a couple weeks before the coaches have to make that decision.

“He’s had very good performances,” Caldwell said. “Danny’s obviously a guy that has a real good understanding of systems, does a good job in terms of his leadership and he’s effective.”

Even though this year’s quarterback battle is different than last year’s, Orlovsky said competing is nothing new for him.

“I was drafted in 2005 in the fifth round,” he said. “Every day’s been a competition for me. It is for every guy in this league.

“I just want to go out and continue to work and do my job. And the coaches will make the decision when they want to make the decision.”