Dan's the man.
Dan Orlovsky will start at quarterback Sunday against New Orleans as the Lions try to avoid becoming the first NFL team to start 0-15.
Orlovsky earned the start with his performance in Sunday's 31-21 loss at Indianapolis - and also because Daunte Culpepper is still suffering from an injured shoulder.
"It's just where we're at right now," coach Rod Marinelli said. "He's questionable and probably not in the mix right now."
Marinelli said he wasn't sure if Culpepper could even practice this week. He declined to speculate whether he would have a decision to make if Culpepper were healthy.
He also declined to name Orlovsky the starter for the rest of the season, leaving his options open for the season finale Dec. 28 at Green Bay, when the Lions could be trying to avoid the first 0-16 season in NFL history. But he praised Orlovsky's intelligence, work ethic and efficiency.
"I think it's always week to week with me, see where we're at," Marinelli said. "He's doing very well and (we're) excited about him."
After the Lions put Jon Kitna on injured reserve with a back injury, Orlovsky made his first four NFL starts. He wasn't flashy, but he turned over the ball only twice and put the Lions in position to win each game.
Still, the Lions signed Culpepper. The day after the sides agreed to terms, Orlovsky suffered his thumb injury at Chicago. Culpepper stepped right in.
But then Culpepper suffered his injury Dec. 7 against Minnesota, and Orlovsky was just ready to return.
He went 23-for-34 for 233 yards and a touchdown against the Colts, with no turnovers. He targeted wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who finished with a career-high nine catches. He said his thumb was fine.
Not that he was thrilled.
"I expect myself to play at a high level," Orlovsky said. "Watching the film, I could have been 28 of 34, 30 of 34. Missed some throws. I didn't play as well as I wanted to."
- The Lions have had three quarterbacks start this season and five throw a pass. "There's no continuity at that position for us," Marinelli said. "That's not an excuse. We've got to go execute that game, that day. But just lack a little of the continuity you need to move the ball consistently."
Asked if the Lions' record would be better if they had one starter all season, Marinelli said: "That's good. I like that. I think it would be helpful. Anytime you have consistency at a position, I think you're going to be better. There's no doubt. This league's about consistency and keeping the same guys in the lineup as long as you can. As long as they're playing well, it will help you."
- The Lions did not allow a sack Sunday, even though Indianapolis defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney entered with 21 sacks combined. Marinelli praised left tackle Jeff Backus. "That was a great matchup," Marinelli said. "He did a great job. He's drawn some really good defensive ends this year, some of the best in the league, and he's putting out good film for himself right now." Backus said: "It was a combination of things. I didn't do anything to screw it up. I thought (offensive coordinator Jim) Colletto did a good job of coming up with a game plan for them, emphasizing certain protections, emphasizing the running backs chipping on the way out. And then Dan did a good job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the ball. You really just try to contain those guys. You're not going to just stop them."
- S Dwight Smith suffered a broken ankle Sunday at Indianapolis and will have surgery.
- S LaMarcus Hicks is expected to be signed from the practice squad to replace Smith on the roster.
- S Stuart Schweigert is expected to see more playing time now that Smith is out for the season.
- CB Keith Smith aggravated his groin injury Sunday and was to go for an ultrasound test Monday. He said the worry was that he has a sports hernia.
- DT Cory Redding, on injured reserve with a knee injury, is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday. Coach Rod Marinelli could not give specifics about the injury, but he said it had been bothering Redding.