Orlovsky Aware of Contract Year Implications

Dan Orlovsky (Getty Images)

Dan Orlovsky is in a contract year, and he knows exactly what that means.

The exhibition opener was a big night for the Lions' backup quarterbacks - Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton. President Matt Millen has called them gamers, but they haven't played in many games, if any.

Orlovsky, a fifth-round pick in 2005, has attempted only 17 passes in regular-season action - none since his rookie year - and missed much of the exhibition season last year. Stanton, a second-round pick last year, hadn't played in any kind of NFL game after going on injured reserve early in training camp last year.

Both looked good. Orlovsky went 8-for-11 for 81 yards. Stanton went 5-for-6 for 27 yards and also ran three times for 29 yards (not counting three kneel-downs at the end).

Orlovsky knows he needs to perform.

"I'm not dumb," Orlovsky said. "I know this league. I know it's my contract year. I know they're probably wondering what I can do, if I can be the guy.

"But it comes down to, I can't make them think I'm the guy unless I think I'm the guy. The 10 other guys on the field aren't going to think I'm the guy unless I think I'm the guy."

By "the guy," Orlovsky doesn't mean the backup quarterback. He means the starter, at least someday.

"The guy," Orlovsky said. "The guy who this organization looks to and says, 'That's our starting quarterback.' That's what I want to be. That's my goal.

"Is that going to happen? I can't tell the future. But I'm doing everything I can to make them see that, to prepare myself for that moment, so when it comes, I'm ready for it."

Stanton has a little more time to develop. He is essentially a rookie, and the Lions are expected to be patient with him. He is going back to his old mechanics after former offensive coordinator Mike Martz made wholesale changes last year.

"I have no idea looking back why all that happened, all the changes that he made," Stanton said. "There's one thing that I still use that he taught me, and that's it.

"And that was just changing my grip a little bit, and I'm sure just any coach probably would have come along and changed that a little bit, just the difference between an NFL ball and one of those Nike college footballs."

The NFL ball is shaped slightly differently, a little narrower at the top. Stanton puts his index finger higher on the ball than he did at Michigan State. He has more space between his palm and the ball.

Stanton essentially started from scratch this off-season. Martz had gone to San Francisco, and the Lions had hired Scot Loeffler as quarterbacks coach.

Asked about his mechanics now, Stanton said they are "much closer to what I used to be than what Coach Martz had me try to be. Scott's changed some things that really make sense to me, and I feel great doing it.

"It allows me to put more on the ball and put less stress on my body and get my body in position to make all the throws and get to my checkdowns."

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