Camp fires Day 10: Stanton's progress
Every day during training camp, Lions beat writer Dave Birkett takes you inside practice at Allen Park with notes, quotes and observations of interest.
Drew Stanton is starting to look more and more comfortable under center. Stanton, who struggled this spring and early in camp, has strung together three of his best days recently. His passes are crisp, his reads correct, and he can make plays when necessary with his feet. In Saturday's controlled scrimmage, Stanton took 12 snaps and threw two touchdown passes to John Standeford.
There's two reasons for Stanton's progression. One, he said he's talking to himself less in the pocket. "The game is starting to slow itself down a little bit as opposed to me thinking, 'OK, are my hips and shoulders in a position where I can throw this (pass) if it presents itself? The way the cover rotation's going that way, I don't want to throw that. How do I get back to here? ... You multiply that with the fact that I didn't really know the offense and it's changed and a lot of it's on the quarterback's shoulders, it was difficult to get in there at first and get into a rhythm." There are still times when Stanton takes off too early running, but after spending last season on injured reserve he's effectively 10 days into his NFL career. That will come.
The other reason Stanton feels more comfortable is that Mike Martz is gone. It can't be understated the negative effect Martz had on some players last year. In Stanton's case, he changed his entire way of quarterbacking. Stanton said he's kept one mechanical tweak Martz taught him moving his index finger higher up on the ball. "People throw the way they throw," he said. "There's things you can do to help aid that to be more efficient with it, but there's obviously different schools of thought out there, as last year was a prime example of."
Jon Kitna is still tops on the depth chart at quarterback and, barring injury, that won't change this year. Stanton may be hard-pressed to pass Dan Orlovsky for the No. 2 job, too. Orlovsky's still ahead in his grasp of the offense and the Lions need to figure out what they have in him. But Orlovsky's a free agent after the season and it's hard to see the Lions sinking big bucks into him, so Stanton still is in position to be the Lions' quarterback of the future. Having said that, the Lions will need to add another arm next year, either through the draft or a veteran. How Stanton progresses over the next five months will determine which way they go.
Just throwing it out there: Michael Vick should be available when he gets released from prison next year. He'd have to be reinstated, of course, and I don't think he'd fit with the Lions and Coach Rod Marinelli regardless, but you never know.
Standeford, by the way, won't make the team but has looked better the last three days as well. The Purdue product had a lot of drops early in camp. On Friday and Saturday, he caught most everything thrown his way.