Allen Park — Realistically, the competition was never supposed to be all that close, but with two exhibition games remaining, rookie Jake Rudock is still in the mix to serve as the Lions backup quarterback.
Pitted against veteran Dan Orlovsky, Rudock has made rapid strides on the practice field and has held his own in the first two preseason contests. Orlovsky, on the other hand, has made a pair of critical errors, throwing a pick-six in each of those games.
Coach Jim Caldwell expressed concern with the major miscues, but also noted those two plays will only play a small part in the overall evaluation process.
"We evaluate everybody for the length of time that they’re with us from the spring to now and we continue to do so," Caldwell said. "A couple bad plays doesn’t necessarily affect (it)."
Rudock, a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Michigan, certainly hasn't been perfect. He also tossed an interception against the Bengals Thursday night, on a deep ball into traffic intended for Jace Billingsley.
But overall, the rookie has been highly efficient. He's completed 72.7 percent of his 22 throws for 162 yards, one touchdown and the interception. Orlovsky, playing with the second-team offense, has been less effective, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 247 yards, one score and two picks.
Additionally, Rudock has flashed some mobility, picking up 31 yards on six carries, while avoiding taking any sacks.
Where Orlovsky trumps Rudock is experience. The veteran is entering his 12th season, including the past two as Stafford's backup. But the competition isn't about experience, or Rudock's potential, it's about which player is most capable to help the Lions win a game if pressed into action.
"We’re still looking for the best player at that spot," Caldwell said. "Coaches don’t have anything beyond, talking about future. We talk about now. That’s what we’re more interested in."
There's also a realistic possibility the Lions keep three quarterbacks, after rostering just two for the 2015 campaign. That would eliminate the risk of losing Rudock on waivers, while allowing him to develop for a year before requiring him to shoulder the backup responsibility.
Orlovsky re-upped with the Lions as a free agent this past offseason, signing a one-year, veteran-minimum deal. Included in the pact was an $80,000 signing bonus, plus an additional $80,000 of his base salary is guaranteed.