Allen Park — Before the Detroit Lions take five days off for the bye, the team held a final practice Tuesday at its Allen Park facility.
Without the need to prepare for an opponent, the team showed extreme caution with its banged-up roster. The Lions held 12 players out of practice, including starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford hasn’t missed a regular-season practice since 2012, and his absence provided a unique opportunity for second-year backup Jake Rudock.
“We’ve got some young guys, myself included, who don’t always get a ton of reps,” said Rudock, the former Michigan quarterback.
You see, once training camp ends, Rudock spends little time working plays from the Lions’ playbook. Instead, he runs the scout team during practices, simulating that week’s opposing quarterback, or maybe just running plays the defense has recently been struggling to defend.
“Physically, we’ll do stuff after practice,” Rudock said. “During practice, not much. (Stafford) has to get ready.”
Rudock also focuses on taking every mental rep he possibly can, watching the play develop and reading through the same progressions as Stafford does on the field.
Last Sunday, Rudock nearly got his first action under center during a regular season game. With the team down 35 points in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints, he was warming up on the sidelines before the Lions began a furious comeback that ultimately fell short.
“I’m always trying to be ready,” he said.