FIRST DOWN: THE CASE FOR MOORE
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell used three words to describe quarterback Kellen Moore’s play throughout the preseason: consistent, composure and moxie.
All three apply to the third-year pro out of Boise State.
Moore continued his fine play Thursday night in Buffalo, completing 17-of-28 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He led four scoring drives in a 23-0 victory.
For the preseason, Moore finished 35-of-51 passing for 361 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a 108.4 passer rating.
It should be noted that those numbers were put up against backup defenses, but Moore is playing alongside backups, too.
Moore has certainly made a strong case for inclusion on the 53-man roster, which has to be decided by 4 p.m. Saturday.
He has a clear grasp of Joe Lombardi’s offense and has proven that through four preseason games.
“I felt good, I felt like I have progressed and become comfortable,” Moore said after the game. “There’s no substitute for being out there and playing and getting reps and live action.
“I feel like I’ve been able to do that over the course of the preseason, especially this one and I feel good.”
Moore wouldn’t speculate after the game on his roster status. He’s played like he’s one of the best 53 players on this team. He’s played well enough to be in the conversation with Dan Orlovsky to be Matthew Stafford’s backup.
SECOND DOWN: EIGHT PLAYERS WHO IMPRESSED
When the head coach mentions a player by name in the postgame press conference in response to a blanket question about who caught his eye, that’s a good thing for that player, especially when roster cut-down day is just one day away.
Here are the eight names Caldwell mentioned:
QB Kellen Moore: Led four scoring drives and threw two touchdown passes in his most extensive work of the preseason.
WR Ryan Broyles: Had three more catches for 31 yards against the Bills, bringing his preseason total to 11 for 144. Eight of the 11 went for first downs. Broyles has all but wrapped up a roster spot.
S Isa Abdul-Quddus: He’s been a playmaker for the defense all preseason. He recorded his second interception of the preseason in Buffalo and has made a very strong case to be a reserve safety on this team.
RB George Winn: Winn carried the ball 12 times for 43 yards (3.9 average) and was good in pass protection. He also caught a pass. Winn isn’t a gasher, but he’s proven he can get some tough yards. He’s shown more than Mikel Leshoure in the preseason, but Leshoure is a former second-round pick. We’ll see what the Lions decide to do on Saturday when it comes to their reserve running-back role.
LB Travis Lewis: The third-year linebacker out of Oklahoma had four tackles and defended a pass against the Bills. It was his best effort of the preseason and probably locked up a reserve linebacker role.
TE Eric Ebron: The Lions are waiting until Monday Night Football to completely open the playbook, which especially goes for the tight end position. The Lions have some special things planned for that position and Ebron in particular. He showed why the Lions like him so much in Buffalo. He caught two passes for 23 yards. The first one he bounced off a tackler and picked up 9 yards for a first down. It’s the run after the catch that’s going to be exciting with him.
S Nate Ness: Like Abdul-Quddus, Ness recorded his second interception of the preseason in Buffalo. It’ll be tough for him to make the roster in a crowded secondary, but he put some good things on tape.
K Nate Freese: He was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, including two from 53 yards.
"Nate did a nice job in terms of his three-for-three in field goals and a couple long kicks as well," Caldwell said. "I thought he did an excellent job.”
THIRD DOWN: WAITING GAME
After Friday morning’s short practice, second-year receiver Corey Fuller says he’ll try to stay away from his phone and keep his mind off one of the unpleasant days in this business – cut-down day.
“Yes. I definitely do,” Fuller said when asked if he was confident he’d make the team. “I know when I first came into camp everybody didn’t count me in as ‘on the bubble or this or that.’ As time went on I just worked my way up and I’m happy with where I’m at right now. But, I can still get better.”
Fuller, who caught three passes for 48 yards against Buffalo, said he hopes to make the team, but if not, he thinks he put enough on tape that one of the 31 other teams might pick him up.
Safety Jerome Couplin is in the same boat as Fuller, waiting to hear if he has a job come Saturday.
“I think I played pretty consistent and I’m doing the best I can everyday,” he said after the game. “Whatever they decide is what they’re going to decide. It’s out of my hands now.”
FOURTH DOWN: STILL WORK TO BE DONE
No head coach is ever satisfied, even after a thoroughly dominating victory in Buffalo.
The Lions still had too many penalties (10) and didn’t convert as many third downs on offense as they might have hoped for (3 of 14; 21 percent).
They still have 10 days to clean up a few details before the Giants come calling.
“We have a ways to go,” Caldwell said. “ We really do.
“I’m glad we have more practices prior to that time. So, we have work to do. We will look forward to getting after them and getting ready to go after our guys and getting them in the right frame of mind and those kinds of things for a very tough contest. So we still have a ways to go.”