Jake Rudock

Lions’ Jake Rudock Drawing Trade Interest

Lions backup quarterback Jake Rudock is generating trade interest around the NFL, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds rival clubs attempted to “poach” Rudock last season.Jake Rudock (Vertical)

Rudock, a sixth-round pick out of Michigan in the 2016 draft, didn’t attempt a pass during his rookie campaign but did perform well in his most recent preseason contest, as he completed 10 of 13 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. Entering his age-24 season, Rudock is signed through 2019 under the terms of his rookie contract.

While Rudock didn’t see a snap last season, that doesn’t mean he’s not valuable to Detroit, which only has two other quarterbacks on its roster: starter Matthew Stafford and rookie Brad Kaaya. Kaaya, a sixth-round choice earlier this year, presumably isn’t prepared to serve as Stafford’s backup in 2017, so the Lions would potentially need to secure another quarterback if they deal Rudock.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Golson, Browns, Lions

In the past few drafts, the Steelers have made a concerted effort to bolster their defensive backfield, an area that has been something of a weakness in the second half of the Ben Roethlisberger era. The team selected a cornerback on the first or second day of the last three drafts (Cam Sutton in 2017, Artie Burns in 2016, and Senquez Golson in 2015), and safety Sean Davis was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft. Pittsburgh’s secondary was improved last season, but after it was gashed by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers’ coaching staff plans to implement more man coverage in 2017, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Dulac says the team is confident that Sutton and Burns can handle those concepts, but the staff is openly pessimistic about Golson, who has not played in a preseason or regular-season game in his two years in the league due to injuries. Golson, who is at least healthy enough to practice at the moment, seems to be on the verge of losing his roster spot altogether, and he may need to prove his worth on special teams just to make the club.

Now for more from the North:

  • Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman sit squarely atop the Browns‘ wide receiver depth chart, but the No. 3 job is wide open, and there are a number of second-years players who could fill that role. However, Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com says the team hopes Ricardo Louis, last year’s fourth-round selection, can be the guy. Though Louis appeared in all 16 games for the club last season, he caught just 18 passes for 205 yards, but given the big-play potential he flashed at Auburn, Cleveland will give him every opportunity to earn a key role this summer.
  • Speaking of Coleman, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says he will be eased into the grind of training camp, and he may not be a full-go from the first day of camp. The same is true of 2017 No. 1 overall selection Myles Garrett, who suffered a left lateral foot sprain in minicamp.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew, a fourth-round selection in 2016, was a fixture in the team’s dime package last season, but as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Killebrew could be in for a much bigger role in 2017. The Southern Utah product is currently listed as the third safety on the depth chart behind Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson, but Meinke believes Killebrew could push Wilson for the starting strong safety job with a solid training camp. As we learned yesterday, the Lions and Quin are discussing a new contract.
  • Jake Rudock lost the Lions‘ backup quarterback competition to Dan Orlovsky last season because of Orlovsky’s experience and knowledge of the team’s offense, but now Rudock himself is the player with the experience advantage. As Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com writes, Rudock’s grasp of OC Jim Bob Cooter’s scheme is miles ahead of rookie Brad Kaaya‘s, thereby making Rudock almost a lock for the backup job.

Lions In Talks With Larry Warford, Riley Reiff

The Lions could lose 40 percent of their starting offensive line, right guard Larry Warford and right tackle Riley Reiff, as early as the opening of free agency on March 9. But general manager Bob Quinn indicated Wednesday that the Lions aren’t going to let either walk without first making an attempt to re-sign them.

Larry Warford[RELATED: Top Offensive Free Agents]

“We’ve had discussions both of them,” Quinn told reporters, including Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “We don’t have anything to announce with them, but we’re working toward that, and I’m excited to see what the offensive line looks like next year.”

The 25-year-old Warford is the younger of the pair and should be more expensive to retain, having started in all 57 of his appearances since the Lions chose him in the third round of the 2013 draft. Warford ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 20th-best guard last year, and he could end up with a $9MM-per-annum payday in the coming weeks.

Reiff, meanwhile, has been in Detroit since it nabbed him 23rd overall in the 2012 draft. Aside from a 16-appearance, eight-start rookie year, Reiff has lined up with the Lions’ No. 1 unit dating back to his second season. The 28-year-old has appeared in no fewer than 14 games, all starts, in each season since 2013. He also has experience at both tackle spots, though PFF wasn’t that bullish on his work on the right in 2016, as it placed him a below-average 48th among 78 qualified OTs. Nevertheless, Quinn was impressed with Reiff’s output.

“I think Riley did a good job over at right tackle,” Quinn said. “It’s not an easy transition, after a few years at left, to move over to the right. It’s a different playing style. But I thought he had a solid year. He competed.”

While Warford and Reiff could soon reach free agency, teammate and backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky definitely will, per Quinn. Orlovsky, who has had multiple stints with the Lions during his career, seemed to say goodbye to Detroit on Twitter earlier this month. It’s now official, and Jake Rudock will take over as Matt Stafford’s primary backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Diggs, Packers, Rudock

The Vikings are unlikely to have their top wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, for their Thanksgiving showdown with the NFC North rival Lions, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Diggs, who’s dealing with a knee injury and hasn’t practiced this week, easily paces the Vikings in receptions (67), targets (87) and yards (747). Minnesota defeated the Texans in its only game without Diggs this season, but the Vikings have lost four of five since and now have the same record (6-4) as first-place Detroit.

More from the division:

  • At 4-6, the Packers have been among the NFL’s most disappointing teams this year, but club president Mark Murphy gave votes of confidence to general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy in an interview with WTMJ Radio (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “I do hear from a lot of fans. And I tell fans: Like them, I’m disappointed,” Murphy said. “Certainly, the season hasn’t gone the way we had all hoped, but there’s a lot of football left to be played. And the other thing I tell people is, you’ve got to look at Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy’s track record.” Green Bay is currently in danger of missing the playoffs for just the third time since 2006, the year Thompson hired McCarthy. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that both Thompson and defensive coordinator Dom Capers could be in trouble at year’s end. The Packers then lost in resounding fashion, 42-24, in Washington.
  • Before the Lions elevated quarterback Jake Rudock to their active roster Wednesday, the division-rival Bears tried to sign the sixth-round rookie away, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) adds that Chicago wasn’t the only team looking to pluck him.
  • Green Bay won’t get injured running back Eddie Lacy or concussed cornerback Sam Shields back this season, which will surely make its uphill climb all the more difficult. Jay Cutler, on the other hand, might return this year for Chicago.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/23/16

Wednesday’s minor moves from around the NFL:

  • The Colts re-signed cornerback Darryl Morris and placed fellow corner Frankie Williams on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list.
  • The Bears announced that they have promoted linebacker Jonathan Anderson to the active roster. Chicago also signed Lawrence Okoye and listed him as an offensive lineman. Okoye has tried his hand as a defensive lineman in the past.
  • The Lions have signed quarterback Jake Rudock to the active roster from the practice squad.
  • The Seahawks have moved running back George Farmer from their practice squad to their active roster. A receiver at USC, Farmer shifted to cornerback after signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He then became a rusher entering this year, and racked up 36 yards on nine carries during the preseason.
  • The Rams have signed cornerback Steve Williams, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. This will be Williams’ second stint of 2016 with the Rams, who waived him after he was inactive for their first two games. He then joined the Chargers and started in two of five appearances, but they cut him Nov. 8.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

Lions Trim Roster To 53

The Lions have released offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. Thomas came to Detroit in the Jeremy Kerley trade earlier this weekBrandon Thomas (vertical)

Thomas, a former third-round pick, has never taken a snap in the NFL. He missed his entire rookie season in 2014 while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in college, and didn’t appear in a game during his sophomore campaign. Thomas wasn’t need in the Bay Area given that Anthony Davis has come out of retirement and shifted to guard and he apparently wasn’t wanted in Detroit either.

Thomas obviously wasn’t the Lions’ only victim of cut day. Cuts include:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Rudock, Orlovsky, Mallett

Through the first two games of the preseason, Lions rookie quarterback Jake Rudock has outplayed veteran Dan Orlovsky by a wide margin, which has left many wondering who will serve as Matthew Stafford‘s primary backup in 2016. Although Orlovsky entered training camp with a huge lead over the rookie for the backup job, and few expected Rudock to seriously vie for it — indeed, Orlovsky has the game experience that a team looks for in a No. 2 signal-caller, and Rudock did not play very well during Detroit’s offseason program — Rudock’s performance and Orlovsky’s struggles in the preseason may leave head coach Jim Caldwell with a difficult decision. When asked who he expected to win the job, Caldwell said, “the best player, period” (article via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com).

Of course, as Meinke observes, the best player for the short term isn’t always the best player for the long term, so Caldwell’s comments do not add much clarity, and Caldwell would reveal little else about how the Lions would go about choosing between the quarterbacks, other than to say the club is weighing its options. As Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press writes, if the Lions keep all three quarterbacks, you can count on Orlovsky being the No. 2 on gamedays. The real question is who the Lions keep if they carry just one backup, which is usually how New England built its roster when Lions GM Bob Quinn was in the front office there.

Now for a quick swing around the league’s North divisions:

  • In a separate piece, Birkett examines Stevan Ridley‘s roster status, noting that Ridley has surprisingly been relegated to the second half of the Lions‘ first two preseason games. Ridley, the five-year veteran who was expected to challenge Zach Zenner for the “big back” role on offense, played just nine snaps during Detroit’s Thursday night contest. As Birkett notes, however, it is still too early to read too much into preseason playing time, especially since Ridley is easily the most accomplished of the group of backs fighting for a roster spot behind Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Similarly, Caldwell said the Lions are still figuring out their running back rotation, and preseason performance is only one part of the formula.
  • Although it was believed that the Ravens signed veteran signal-caller Josh Johnson to be little more than a camp arm, with Ryan Mallett firmly entrenched as Joe Flacco‘s backup, Johnson has played very well in Baltimore’s first two preseason contests, and head coach John Harbaugh indicated last night that there is indeed a legitimate battle for the backup job between Johnson and Mallett (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun). Mallett has also played reasonably well during the preseason games but has struggled mightily during training camp. Whether Harbaugh’s comments have any truth behind them, or whether they are simply intended to motivate Mallett, remains to be seen.
  • Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press believes that the battle for the Vikings‘ starting strong safety spot will again come down to the wire, just as it has in each of the past two seasons. As Tomasson writes, incumbent Andrew Sendejo got the nod in the Aug. 12 preseason opener at Cincinnati before Michael Griffin started in Thursday’s 18-11 win at Seattle. There are two more games left for the two to fight it out.
  • Earlier today, we learned what Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell had to say about his suspension.

NFC Notes: Saints, Lions, Falcons

With the Friday release of Keenan Lewis, the Saints have now severed ties with all but one cornerback who made their roster two years ago, observes Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. That corner is Brian Dixon, who has begun his career with 32 straight appearances since the Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent from Northwest Missouri State. Of New Orleans’ current group of corners, P.J. Williams stands to benefit the most from Lewis’ exit, writes Erickson, who adds that the 2015 third-round pick has impressed this summer. Williams missed his rookie season with a torn hamstring, but the Florida State product is now set to start opposite Delvin Breaux.

Elsewhere in the NFC…

  • While the Lions value backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky’s veteran leadership, that might not be enough for the 11th-year man to fend off Jake Rudock for the backup role or – depending on how many signal-callers the team keeps – a roster spot, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Rudock, a sixth-round rookie out of Michigan, has outplayed the 33-year-old Orlovsky through the Lions’ first two preseason matchups. In Detroit’s game Thursday against Cincinnati, Orlovsky tossed his second pick-six of the exhibition season. Overall, in addition to the two interceptions, he has thrown a touchdown while completing 24 of 39 passes for 247 yards. Rudock has hit on 16 of 22 attempts for 162 yards, adding both a score and a pick.
  • Falcons punter Matt Bosher suffered a chest injury in the team’s game against the Browns on Thursday, so Atlanta will work out free agent Brandon Fields, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Fields might only be a temporary solution if he signs, however, as McClure notes that Bosher is likely to be fine. A Dolphin from 2007-14, Fields played two games last season with the Saints and averaged 41.2 yards (35.1 net) on 10 punts.
  • In case you missed it, the NFL released a statement Friday explaining why it only suspended Giants kicker Josh Brown for one game after past domestic violence allegations surfaced.

North Notes: Packers, Rudock, R. Hall

Packers WR Jeff Janis broke his right hand on Wednesday, and although a serious injury is a less-than-ideal way to solve a roster crunch, Janis’ misfortune could help resolve Green Bay’s logjam at wide receiver, as Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Head coach Mike McCarthy all but ruled out having seven wide receivers on his 53-man roster early in camp, and if the Packers were to put Janis on IR, they could keep all six of their other drafted receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis, and Trevor Davis. Of course, Green Bay could put Janis on the Injured Reserve-Designated to Return list, which means that the club could keep those other six wideouts, and if Janis is needed later on, he could be brought back for the second half of the season. Today, McCarthy said that Janis, at the very least, will not practice with the team this week (Twitter link via Silverstein).

Now let’s take a look at some more notes from around the league:

  • Last season, the Packers‘ third running back spot was split between two small school products, and Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that another small school back, Brandon Burks, has a real shot at landing that job in 2016. Burks, a Troy product whom the Packers signed as a UDFA this year, was terrific as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker in Green Bay’s preseason win over Cleveland on Friday night, and he offers a nice change-of-pace to Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
  • The top four spots on the Lions’ wide receiver depth chart are fairly well-settled, but after Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, and T.J. Jones, Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press writes that there are still no clear favorites for the final one or two WR openings on the roster.
  • Lions rookie signal-caller Jake Rudock looked as good as anyone could have reasonably expected during his professional debut against Pittsburgh on Friday night, and Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press wonders if the Michigan product could ascend the depth chart to become Matthew Stafford‘s primary backup this year. At the very least, continued strong performances from Rudock could convince the Lions to carry three QBs on the roster.
  • Browns WR Rannell Hall, whom the club plucked off of Tampa Bay’s practice squad last December, will be out for the season after suffering a fractured fibula in Friday night’s loss to Green Bay, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hall was certainly on the roster bubble, but he would have been eligible for the practice squad and would have at least had an outside chance at a roster spot given Cleveland’s fairly thin receiving corps.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is insisting that Ladarius Green‘s absence is related to his ankle issues, not his headaches, and that Tomlin will not confirm reports that Green is experiencing lingering headaches and is considering retirement.