New Lions QB Rudock never complacent playing football

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Jake Rudock throws during a Lions rookie minicamp earlier this month.

Allen Park — The makeup of the Lions roster seems to create a good opportunity for sixth-round pick Jake Rudock.

The former Michigan quarterback won’t be under pressure to perform immediately with Matthew Stafford entrenched as the starter. And even though Rudock will compete Dan Orlovsky to be the top backup, the rookie also will take advantage of the chance to learn from Orlovsky, who’s going into his 12th year.

But, comfortable isn’t necessarily an appropriate description of Rudock’s situation in the NFL.

“I’ve learned never to get too comfortable playing football,” he said. “You just can’t fall into that because then you start getting satisfied with where you are,” he said.

Rudock is proof that quarterbacks should never be complacent. After he lost his starting quarterback job at Iowa, he transferred to Michigan last year, and was able to play immediately under graduate-student transfer rules. Thanks to a solid season with the Wolverines, Rudock became an NFL draft pick.

And while Rudock is thrilled to have accomplished his dream, he already has his contingency plan if professional football doesn’t work out. He wants to go to medical school.

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“Well, you’re putting it off so you can go back to it, right?” he said of medical school. “So, eventually, yeah, I would love to do that.”

He thinks he wants to study pediatric medicine, but Rudock said he’ll discover exactly what kind of medicine he wants to study once he starts that phase of his life.

For now, his goal is to “do the best I can right here” with the Lions, and that includes “trying to be the best I can at meetings.”

Obviously, spending his final year of college eligibility at Michigan paid off for Rudock. Lions coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Bob Quinn have stressed the benefit of a quarterback playing in a pro-style system, as Rudock has – and learning from coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t hurt either.

“With that said, there’s obviously a lot to learn coming into this system just because terminology is changed, and while concepts may remain the same, there’s still a lot to learn,” Rudock said. “And defense is a little more complex here, so I’ve got to catch up on all that.”

The Lions drafting Rudock is a sign that at least one team thinks he can be successful at the NFL, whether that’s being an asset in meetings or eventually on the field. But, don’t expect that to make Rudock comfortable.

Harbaugh said many times that Rudock had NFL potential, but Rudock thought those comments were more for the fans and media than something that changed his outlook.

“It’s kind of like a little pat on the back – a keep doing what you’re doing thing,” Rudock said of Harbaugh’s support. “But (I was) not trying to read too much into it, just focus on what I could do at that time.”

What Rudock can do now is learn the Lions playbook as well as he can to push Orlovsky for the No. 2 job when training camp begins this summer, and he doesn’t expect there to be any animosity during that pursuit.

“We’re both just trying to make this team better however we can,” Rudock said.

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