Expect Daunte Culpepper to start Sunday's game against Jacksonville.
Just don't expect Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli to announce it.
With Dan Orlovsky officially listed as out with an injury to his throwing hand, Marinelli fielded questions on Friday regarding the team's starting signal caller -- and in typical Marinelli fashion, he refused to show his hand. But if common sense (and offensive coordinator Jim Colletto's remarks last week) are any indication, Culpepper is the obvious choice.
Second-year quarterback Drew Stanton and Culpepper have eached shared practice repetitions with the first-team while Orlovsky watched from the sideline this week, fueling the idea of a competition between the two, unlikely starting candidates. But the Lions have been public about their unwillingness to test Stanton -- at least not yet.
Just last week, Colletto said he didn't want to "embarrass" Stanton by putting him into a game too early.
With Culpepper impressing everyone with his strong arm and surprising physical condition (and the fact that the team will suffer its second consecutive blackout), everything else is semantics.
"They both (Drew Stanton and Daunte Culpepper) made a nice step, each of them," said Marinelli following Friday's practice. "I thought today was pretty good, but this is not game speed. We try to make it as fast as we can go when we practice with good tempo. I will evaluate it again and see it today, this afternoon, we'll walk through tomorrow, talk through it and make a decision."
Marinelli again refused to name a starter, and also declined when asked whether or not Orlovsky -- like Jon Kitna before him -- would be placed on injured reserve.
Because it's been almost a full-year since his first live-action contest, there has been debate about whether or not Culpepper still has it. Considering his shelf-life, there's a real chance that Culpepper could fall on his face without enough preparation.
Lions wide receiver Shaun McDonald said Culpepper's arm, at the least, is ready to go.
"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," he said. "It's good. You want the ball to get there as fast as possible."
Marinelli didn't think Culpepper's transition from a few days of practice to a live-game would be troubling.
"I just think one thing that I think it's good where he's at: he's young," said Marinelli. "Thirty-one in this league at that position is young. He's healthy right now. He's moving around – he seems fine. The offense: we've scaled it back. We've got to go in and we've got to be able to try to run the football, not turn it over, and we have to play defense and kick the ball well."
Added Marinelli later, "He's has a cannon still."
"He's a veteran and he knows how to change the point and all those things," said Marinelli. "So I feel comfortable (with him) knowing what to do and that we'll be fine."