It's all about Daunte in Detroit.
Because the Lions are 0-8, the next opponent, Jacksonville, doesn't matter. Because the Lions already have had their sellout streak broken this year, it isn't a big story that Sunday's game will be blacked out on local television, either.
All that matters is the quarterback situation, and the Lions' attempts to gain some competitive advantage over the Jaguars by being secretive.
Coach Rod Marinelli continued to keep a lid on things Thursday, refusing to talk about reps, refusing to give injury updates, refusing to make his coordinators available to the media on a Thursday for the first time this season. But reading between the lines, it certainly seems Daunte Culpepper will start, even though he will have had less than a week of preparation after coming out of retirement.
Dan Orlovsky was flying back from New York, where he saw a hand specialist Thursday, and the Lions refused to give an update on his injured thumb.
Asked why the Lions wouldn't play Drew Stanton, who hasn't had much practice time, but still has had more than Culpepper, Marinelli said: "I think there's something about a veteran presence, too. That guy's done it, been there. He has confidence, command. Those are vital things also."
Marinelli added: "I'm not saying I'm going that way. I'm taking each day and trying to do a good job of evaluating -- trying not to look ahead."
But he wasn't very convincing. He also pointed out other veteran quarterbacks have joined a team and started quickly. Vinny Testaverde did it last year with Carolina and showed conditioning shouldn't be a big factor for a quarterback.
"I look at Testaverde at 44 coming in and playing," Marinelli said. "Now, he didn't scramble and run boots and stuff like that. But at that one position, I think you can maybe get away with it more than any other position on the field, because you can hand the ball off for a while and don't have to chase it and maybe walk."
Notebook & Player Notes:
- Daunte Culpepper's glory days came in Minnesota when he was throwing to Randy Moss, and he raves about the Lions' No. 81. "Calvin Johnson is definitely a special player," Culpepper said. "There's no doubt about that. I don't know. Maybe one or two guys have ever had the ability that he has at the receiver position. I think it's a treat for a quarterback to be able to throw to a guy like that."
Culpepper's two-year contract includes a $40,000 signing bonus, a prorated veteran minimum salary of $343,529 this year and a $1 million incentive if he plays 5 percent of the snaps and he or the team improves in one of various performance categories this year, profootballtalk.com reported. He is due a $2.5 million roster bonus in March and a $2.5 million base salary next season. Culpepper and Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand declined to discuss the contract.
- Wide receiver Shaun McDonald thinks Culpepper looks good. "He's got a real strong arm, a lot of zip on the ball, so you've got to really concentrate on it when you're catching it," McDonald said. "It's good. You want the ball to get there as fast as possible."
- BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Number of victories for the Lions in their past 16 games. It came against Kansas City, a team that has only one victory this season.
- QUOTABLE: "I'm like a sponge right now. I'm trying to absorb it all and just get better every play." -- QB Daunte Culpepper, on joining the Lions at midseason.
- DT Chuck Darby (calf) did not practice Wednesday but practiced fully Thursday.
- FB Jerome Felton (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He seems unlikely to play Sunday. He has missed one game.
- TE Casey Fitzsimmons (ribs) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He is uncertain for Sunday. He has missed one game.
- QB Dan Orlovsky (hand) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He was flying back from New York, where he saw a specialist Thursday, and the Lions provided no update. He reportedly will miss at least a few weeks.
- C Dominic Raiola (hand) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He is doubtful for Sunday. He didn't rule himself out, but he has a broken thumb on his snapping hand.
- DT Cory Redding (groin) did not practice Wednesday but was limited Thursday. He is expected to play. It is a nagging injury.
- LB Ernie Sims (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday but was limited Thursday. He is expected to play. Coach Rod Marinelli described him as sore.
- S Dwight Smith (foot) did not practice Wednesday and Thursday. He seems doubtful for Sunday. He has missed two games.
- LB Jordon Dizon (hamstring) was limited Wednesday and practiced fully Thursday, after missing two games. He might play some on the strong side.
- TE John Owens (hamstring) was limited Wednesday and Thursday but is expected to be available.