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Detroit Lions roster preview: Can David Blough make a push for the backup job?

We may have a backup quarterback camp battle brewing.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions enter 2021 with a whole new quarterback situation. With Jared Goff now in town, it’s unclear how firmly entrenched Detroit is with their starter. Goff will undoubtedly open the season as the team’s starter, but will he be able to prove the doubters wrong and ward off Detroit’s young depth at the position?

The Lions tried to shore up their backup quarterback position by signing Tim Boyle in free agency—a player who was getting a lot of love from the Green Bay press after beating out rookie Jordan Love for the backup job with the Packers. But don’t count out David Blough, either. Since trading for him back in 2019, the Lions have kept the former Purdue quarterback around as their third-string quarterback.

Still just 25 years old, Blough has a chance to develop into a legit backup quarterback. But can he reach that goal as early as 2021? Let’s take a closer look.

Previous roster previews:

David Blough

Expectations heading into 2020

With the Lions signing Chase Daniel to a significant three-year, $13.05 million deal in the offseason, it was pretty clear Blough was headed for a third-string role, if he could even justify a roster spot. In 2019, Blough started five games in replacement for Matthew Stafford and struggled at times. So it seemed highly unlikely he’d be anything but the team’s No. 3 in 2020.

Actual role in 2020

2020 stats: 1 game (0 starts): 6-of-10, 49 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 32.9 passer rating
PFF grade: 33.6 (Did not qualify for ranking)

That’s exactly what ended up happening for Blough. Originally, Blough did not make the 53-man roster, spending the first month of the season on the practice squad. Eventually, though, he was promoted to the 53-man squad after the Dallas Cowboys tried to sign him off the Lions practice squad, and stayed there for the remainder of the season.

During the forgettable game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Blough made it onto the field for the final quarter but was unable to put up any points in three drives. His final pass in the game was picked off.

Outlook for 2021

Contract status: Signed through 2022

Though it looks like Blough is destined for yet another season as the third-string quarterback after Detroit added Boyle (if they choose to keep three quarterbacks), there is reason to believe he can truly compete for the backup job. First, head coach Dan Campbell spoke glowingly of him earlier this month.

“I love the kid if I’m being totally honest with you,” Campbell said. “He’s just a little football player. And when I say that, I mean that in the highest regard. Look, he’s smart. He’s extremely smart. He knows where to go with the football, I love his timing. He knows how to command the huddle, he communicates well and on top of that, he’s a hell of a dude, by the way.”

Additionally, the gap between him and Boyle didn’t seem particularly large when watching the two practice during minicamp. Though Boyle was clearly in command of the second-team offense, while Blough was with the third and fourth teams, that could very well change when training camp rolls around next month. Boyle’s contract (one year, $2.5 million) is not nearly enough to guarantee the backup job, so expect a real competition in the preseason.

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