It only took Dan Orlovsky four weeks to learn that the starting quarterback position in Detroit is a bit volatile.
Just a few days removed from a strong performance at Chicago, where he completed 28 of 47 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns -- nearly willing the Lions to a victory -- the talk in Detroit is this: an apparent thumb injury to Orlovsky will mean newly signed Daunte Culpepper will start on Sunday.
Orlovsky, who has the thumb in a removable hard cast, can still throw the ball effectively and considers himself day-to-day. Detroit's coaching staff, however, might be looking to use the injury as an excuse to shuffle in Culpepper.
So much for the four years of waiting. Culpepper might have to wait just four days.
But don't expect Orlovsky to concede without a fight.
"I don't shy away," said the former fifth-round draft choice. "I'm a very competitive person, but I don't have any desire to compete against that individual. I have a very, very high expectation of myself, and I think I deserve to have that expectation from the way I've worked. And that's the reason why I have that expectation.
"I'm not too concerned about who they bring in here. As long as they say it makes us a better football team, then great. Then let's see what we've got."
But Orlovsky's statistics could make a plausible case to remain starter. In the last four full games under center, Orlovsky has posted quarterback ratings of 95.3, 99.6, 88.2, and 74.1. In those games, he has tossed for almost 1,000 yards, including five touchdowns versus three interceptions.
Other than the team's week one loss to Atlanta, former starter Jon Kitna never came close to matching Orlovsky's effectiveness at the position.
When you consider Detroit's inability to run, it only highlights Orlovsky's successes that much more. And while many might point to Orlovsky's 0-4 mark as starter, Culpepper -- who has always managed stellar statistics -- hasn't had a winning season in eight years.
"I know how good of a player he was and I know he hasn't played recently, but he's talented and he's done it in this league consistently over a long period of time," said Orlovsky. "I'm excited about it, but I'm not getting too caught up in it. I have confidence in myself as a player, and that's not just talk. And I can see my confidence growing and growing and growing. What will happen with it? I don't know. Time will tell five years down the road."
Lions coach Rod Marinelli earlier in the week didn't deny Orlovsky the opportunity to compete with Culpepper, but he also refused to name him the starter.
"I think he's gotten better – he improved, there's no question," said Marinelli of Orlovsky. "But this is the mix we've got right now and we just kind of let it workout during the week."
Orlovsky, meanwhile, wants to see just how far he can go as an NFL starter.
"Absolutely ... I think I could be really good," he said. "I think I could be a really consistent, top-notch starter in this league."
But will he have that opportunity with the Detroit Lions?
"I don't know," he said. "I'm excited about Jacksonville."