Lions QB Jake Rudock hopes the phone doesn't ring

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit — Jake Rudock remembers draft weekend in 2016 as a nervous time, checking the phone constantly for the call.

With two full seasons and one more offseason with the Detroit Lions under his belt, he’ll be more at ease with his phone this weekend.

The former Michigan quarterback is one of the Lions on the roster bubble who could conceivably get the dreaded phone call on Saturday as teams trim their rosters to 53 players prior to next week’s regular-season openers.

“The plan is to have my phone and see what happens,” Rudock said Thursday after the Lions lost 35-17 in the preseason finale to Cleveland. “For here, whatever happens, happens, and you take the next step as it comes.”

Rudock got the call from the Lions in the sixth round back in 2016. He’d be just fine without getting a call Saturday, as teams will notify players if they are released before the 4 p.m. deadline.

The quarterback picture is murky behind starter Matthew Stafford, as veteran Matt Cassel and Rudock turned in uneven performances in their auditions.

Rudock was 14-of-24 for 112 yards and one touchdown, playing all but one possession in the first half and then returning for most of the second half.

The only two first downs under his first half directions were off Cleveland penalties, but the offense showed signs of life in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.

Rudock led the Lions to the winning drive against Tampa Bay last week, capping a 20-point fourth quarter in the team’s only preseason win.

This time, after Cleveland had the game well in hand, Rudock’s 21-yard run set up Dwayne Washington’s 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

On the team’s next possession, Rudock found Teo Redding down the left sideline for a 38-yard gain to set up another score, as Chris Lacy went up and grabbed a 4-yard jump ball from Rudock for a touchdown.

Lions quarterback Jake Rudock throws in the first quarter.

In four games, Rudock completed 58 of 75 passes (77 percent) for 313 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a score.

The pass to Redding was his longest completion of the preseason, in which Rudock said he tried to balance showing his skills and staying within the offense.

"You want to prove and show what you can do for the coaches or upstairs, but you have to also rely on what’s gotten you to that point,” Rudock said.

The third-year pro still has practice squad eligibility and the Lions could choose to leave him exposed to other teams this weekend.

Cassel was 4-of-11 on Thursday, throwing an interception that went back for a touchdown. He finished the preseason 27 for 49 passing (55 percent) for 247 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

“At times we moved the ball and at times we stalled out, and we’ve got to get in a rhythm,” Cassel said. “I’ve been through a lot of different preseasons over my 14-year career and there’s been teams where we look like a disaster and we end up going 11-5.

“When it comes to the regular season, it can be a completely different story.”

Rudock was asked what he’ll do this weekend given that it’s human nature to wonder about his NFL future.

“Don’t act like a human,” he said, laughing. “You just try not to think about it. It’s the nature of the business. That’s the thing, that’s the sad truth. You start with 90 guys and then it goes to 53 plus 10 (on the practice squad).

“So you just kind of know that’s going to come soon.”

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer