Lions have dwindling window to evaluate QB Kyle Sloter in game setting
Allen Park — With just two games remaining in the 2019 season, and the Detroit Lions stumbling to the finish line with a seven-game losing skid, there's still valuable time to evaluate some of the roster's younger talent for potential future roles.
In the past few weeks, the team has taken a long look at young talent such as Bo Scarbrough, David Blough, Amani Oruwariye, among others. But there's one player of intrigue who has yet to play a snap for the Detroit Lions — quarterback Kyle Sloter.
Signed off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad at the end of last month, Sloter has served as Detroit's primary backup the past two weeks. At the time of the addition, the Lions said it was an opportunity to get a closer look at a player they had liked from afar.
But wouldn't the best evaluation be seeing how Sloter performs on Sunday?
"I think right now, certainly that’s a fair question," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "Right now, we’re trying to get as many guys ready to go, and he’s certainly one of those guys that’s ready to go every single week.
"Obviously, David (Blough) has been here for a longer period of time, so some of the operation, some of the things that we’re doing, he has a little bit of a head start, from that standpoint," Patricia said. "We’ll evaluate everybody every day, and put everybody in a position where we think, if they have to go play, they can play at a high level. But for us, we’re going to put everybody out there that we think gives us a chance to win that week, no matter who it is."
The Lions are unquestionably trying to get a more complete evaluation of Blough, as well, after trading for the quarterback at the start of the season. And, as Patricia pointed out, Blough is obviously more knowledgeable about the system, having been with the team more than three months.
But after a surprisingly solid debut on Thanksgiving, Blough has struggled the past two games, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 465 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
With starter Matthew Stafford expected to be fully healthy for the start of next season, this might be the Lions' best chance to get Sloter some reps, whether it's a couple of series, a quarter or a full half, as they assess the team's backup competition heading into 2020.
"The first part is becoming familiar with the offense, getting him up to speed enough to be able to be ready to play in a game," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "I think Kyle is definitely there, where he’s really worked pretty hard at being able to pick up the offense, and we’re trying to do things to help him.
"We’re getting to see him in reps in practice," Bevell continued. "Right now the plan is to continue to go with David, but as we continue to have those conversations, here internally, we’ll see where that leads."
An undrafted free agent out of Northern Colorado, Sloter has spent much of his early career with the Minnesota Vikings. A preseason standout the past three years, he completed better than 72 percent of his passes each of the exhibition slates, including 76.5 percent for the Vikings this year.
Additionally, in those 12 preseason games, he's thrown 11 touchdowns to one interception.
"He's got the ability to make all the throws, all that stuff," Lions quarterback coach Sean Ryan said earlier this month. "I thought he was an athletic guy. He's got good size for the position. ... He's an accurate guy and it seems to me, without knowing the ins and outs (of the Vikings system), but understanding small amounts of his responsibility, I thought he made good decisions, got the ball out quickly and got the ball out accurately."
Both Sloter and Blough are under contract with the Lions for the 2020 season.