Kellen Moore too good for Lions to ignore

Back in early August, approximately one week into training camp, new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said he did not know how many quarterbacks he intended to keep on the Lions' 53-man roster.

"Not yet. At this point we're a long way away from really getting to that point," he explained.

That was before former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore had the type of preseason the Lions simply could not ignore.

Currently, 17 NFL teams carry three quarterbacks on their active rosters. The other 15 opted to use that spot for a position player and only kept two.

Although Moore has been the Lions third-string quarterback for each of the last two seasons, a new coaching staff had to determine if that was an effective strategy for them.

In addition to that uncertainty, Detroit signed rookie free-agent James Franklin to a deal over the offseason - an athletic quarterback who was a three-year starter at the University of Missouri.

"Both guys are young and eager," said Caldwell in early August. "Kellen has a little more experience in the league at this point. But both guys are competing hard."

In the first preseason game, Moore kept his new competition on the sidelines.

With Detroit trailing Cleveland 12-6 and just 2:14 left in the fourth quarter, Moore led the Lions on a four-play, 50-yard scoring drive in 1:09.

Boise State's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns threw a 21-yard strike down the left sideline to wide receiver Corey Fuller with just 1:05 remaining in regulation.

The Lions won, 13-12.

"I think the biggest thing is just getting comfortable with things," Moore said following the game. "Obviously, every time you step up a level, it's only more competitive and the margin of error is smaller.

Although he barely played in the second and third preseason games - the starters got the bulk of the work - Moore shined again in fourth and final tune-up contest prior to the regular season.

Moore took almost every snap over the last three quarters of a 23-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 28.

Add it all up and Moore completed 68.6-percent for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in four relief appearances.

His 108.4 quarterback rating was the fourth best in the NFL for passers with at least 50 attempts.

When asked if those numbers prompted the Lions to keep three quarterbacks and Moore on their roster, Caldwell said: "Certainly, yes."

"With him in particular, obviously he took advantage of his opportunities," Caldwell continued. "He played well. He did a very nice job obviously being able to lead a group at the end of those ball games where he was able to help get us in position to win."

So his ability to win is what stood out?

That should not come as a surprise for the winningest quarterback in college football history.


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