With Kitna settled, battle for backup begins

With Jon Kitna settled in as the Detroit Lions' starting quarterback, the action behind center belongs to Dan Orlovsky (left) and Josh McCown, whose battle to become Kitna's backup has taken on a life of its own.

With Jon Kitna settled in as the Detroit Lions' starting quarterback, the action behind center belongs to Dan Orlovsky and Josh McCown, whose battle to become Kitna's backup has taken on a life of its own.

McCown, the five-year, athletic, strong-armed gunslinger who signed a million dollar free-agent deal during the off-season, has been given a run for his money by the more youthful Orlovsky. A fifth-round pick a year ago, Orlovsky's accuracy has made him a favorite of offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

And neither has backed away from the competition.

Throughout training camp and the preseason, the two signal callers have turned a rather pedestrian position battle into a heavy-weight grudge match.

In the first two preseason games, each player exchanged haymakers. While Orlovsky drew first blood, completing 6-of-8 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown against Denver, McCown responded by going 8-of-15 for 82 yards at Cleveland a week later.

Against Oakland, McCown sat out while Orlovsky struggled to a 3-for-11 performance.

Orlovsky is expected to play the role as backup against Buffalo on Thursday, but the two will see an equal number of snaps to determine who will take the backup position into the season.

"They're both going to get real good looks this week; it will be fun," said head coach Rod Marinelli on Tuesday. "We'll get out there and let these guys compete. The pressure is still there; that's what I like, the heat and the pressure is still on everybody."

Marinelli added that they will also likely rotate the two frequently.

"Something like that; maybe by plays or something - so we make sure each guy is getting enough snaps. It could be 10 (plays) or two series or something like that. It's just to get each guy in the fold."


Lions Report Top Stories