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Top Detroit Lions 2018 training camp battles: Rudock, Cassel, or both?

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Who will be Matthew Stafford’s primary backup this year?

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially training camp week! The Detroit Lions will kick off their preseason training on Friday and to get prepared for the upcoming month of camp, we’re going to break down some of the key training camp battles that lie ahead.

Today, we start with the quarterback position, and, more specifically, the backup job.

Roster locks: Matthew Stafford (starter)

Matthew Stafford is your unquestioned starter. End of discussion.

On the bubble: Jake Rudock, Matt Cassel

Heading into the offseason, the job appeared to be Jake Rudock’s with no competition. His biggest challenger in 2017, Brad Kaaya, was released last year and swiped up by the Panthers (now on the Colts).

But Bob Quinn made a fairly surprising move by signing veteran Matt Cassel a month into free agency. Quinn has experience with Cassel back from their Patriot days, but it’s unclear whether Cassel is there just to push Jake Rudock’s development or if the Lions are potentially looking to upgrade from the former Wolverine.

Who has the lead going into training camp?

At this point, Rudock still has to be considered the favorite for the job. He’s had a couple seasons under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, and he showed significant development during last offseason. His one game-appearance was a disaster, but he was put in an impossibly tough situation against a good Ravens defense.

That all being said, Cassel is not at all far behind, and this position will likely be decided in the next month. Rudock hasn’t done enough to be considered a lock at this point, and Detroit may end up placing a premium on Cassel’s knowledge and experience.

Keep both?

The other option is a little more simple: keep both Cassel and Rudock. Under Bob Quinn, the Lions have only kept three quarterbacks on the roster once: Towards the end of the 2016 season when they wanted to make sure no one plucked Rudock from their practice squad. For reference, the Patriots haven’t kept three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster since 2014, but they traded Ryan Mallett a day later.

Therefore, it seems unlikely the Lions will decide to keep three quarterbacks, but the benefits are undeniable. They could have their cake and eat it, too. They’d have the young, developmental quarterback in Jake Rudock—who may already be ready to step in if called upon—and they’d have the veteran mind who is useful on the sidelines during the game and the quarterback room during the week in Cassel.

But given how crowded the Lions’ roster is at other positions, they may not be able to save the roster spot.

Poll

Who will win the Lions’ backup quarterback job?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Jake Rudock
    (424 votes)
  • 19%
    Matt Cassel
    (127 votes)
  • 14%
    Both (Lions will keep 3 QBs)
    (94 votes)
645 votes total Vote Now