Lions coach Matt Patricia says new quarterback Luis Perez will be "thrown into the mix." By Matt Schoch, Special to The Detroit News
Allen Park — Though there’s still at least one big one left, the Lions might have answered two questions about their multi-faceted quarterback puzzle on Tuesday morning.
Any Matthew Stafford quandaries aside, “Who’s No. 2?” is still out there.
Former Alliance of American Football quarterback Luis Perez was brought in and David Fales was released, likely bringing in a developmental, practice-squad option while dispatching a former candidate for the backup spot.
Perez, 25, is a former Harlon Hill Trophy winner and Division II national champion from Texas A&M-Commerce who spent time on the Los Angeles Rams practice squad last season, then completed 52.3 percent of his passes for 1,460 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions for the AAF’s Birmingham Iron before the league folded.
Lions coach Matt Patricia said Perez might play Thursday night as the Lions close the preseason at Cleveland.
“He’s someone that we’ve actually tracked here for a little while and had kind of on our radar,” Patricia said. “We don’t have a lot of time left in preseason, so if we are going to have a chance to look at somebody, we've got to do it and just make the decisions, which we did.”
Fales lost the No. 2 spot, a competition which should continue through Saturday’s 4 p.m. roster cuts, to veterans Tom Savage and Josh Johnson.
Savage, 29, was brought in this offseason as the backup quarterback, but suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the preseason opener against New England. He returned to practice Monday.
Fales, 28, played in Detroit’s first three preseason games, connecting on 12-of-19 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown at Houston in Week 2. But his Detroit preseason ended Friday with a 48.8-percent completion rate and a 72.2 passer rating.
Johnson, 33, has connected on 14-of-28 passes in two games, throwing one interception.
Perez, a former pro bowling hopeful with a reported 12 perfect games to his name, did not play high school football and walked on to Southwestern College, a junior college in southern California.
He played in the preseason with the Super Bowl runner-up Rams last year, and also spent part of this past spring with Philadelphia, Detroit's Week 3 opponent and the previous season's Super Bowl champions.
“There are different things down the road that you can do with players like that and have opportunity, so you want to try to get as much information as you can, and be around them as long as possible while you have that opportunity — maybe as opposed to a different situation where you bring them in and you might have him for a couple of days and not really have the opportunity to get to know them as well,” Patricia said.
Practice squad potential
In addition to Saturday’s cut-down day, where rosters will be pared to 53 at 4 p.m., practice squads will start filling up Sunday.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, teams can start to establish their 10-man squads, which can be comprised of players who entered the league in the 2017 season or later.
After adding Perez on Tuesday morning, the Lions had 55 practice squad-eligible players of their 89 on the roster.
Thursday’s opponent in Cleveland has 58 practice squad possibilities on its 90-man roster. The young Miami Dolphins had 59 practice squad eligible players of 87 on their active roster.
Super Bowl champion New England, Patricia and Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s former employer, had 45 practice squad eligible players listed on their 86-man roster on Tuesday afternoon.
The Lions (0-3) have just three sacks this preseason, tied for 28th league-wide with three other teams, and better than just one team (Tennessee has two). Detroit has allowed 13 sacks.
Also on third down, the Lions have converted just five times on 35 attempts (14.2 percent), worst in the NFL by nearly 10 points (Carolina, 31st, 23.1 percent).
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.