That’s because the Lions claimed QB Thaddeus Lewis off waivers on Tuesday, a move that should the fan-favorite Moore on notice. While the 25-year-old Lewis is far from an elite prospect and he was just squeezed out of Cleveland’s depth chart, the Duke product does have an NFL regular-season start under his belt — Lewis took the loss, but turned in an admirable performance, during the Browns’ 24-10 setback in Pittsburgh last year.
Moore, meanwhile, remains third in line at the Lions’ QB spot, behind Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill. If all goes according to plan with Stafford this season, Moore will stay right there.
But Hill, a steady and reliable backup for multiple seasons, turns 34 next January and is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2013. The Lions may try to bring him back for another year or two but their need for a second-string QB could ramp up in the coming months. Even if Stafford makes it through another season unscathed, the Lions will want to have someone they trust at the No. 2 spot.
Is Moore capable of being that guy by 2014? If the Lions are on the fence, then they may opt to cut bait soon and give Lewis a crack at earning a roster spot.
The Lions were thrilled to land Moore after the 2012 draft, and coach Jim Schwartz talked up Moore’s legacy at Boise State — even as the 6-foot-0 QB slipped through all seven rounds of that draft due to questions about his size and arm strength. Moore, too, seemed happy to be in the Motor City, perhaps eyeballing that pending opportunity to take over as Stafford’s backup.
Moore was uneven last preseason, however, completing just 52.6 percent of his passes with one TD and two interceptions. He saw no action once the regular season began.
The Browns decided on a trio of Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer at quarterback, leaving Lewis as the odd man out. Like Moore, Lewis is undersized — anywhere from 6-0 to 6-2, depending on whose measurements you use. He’s a better athlete than Moore, but there also would be no mistaking Lewis for Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick. What he delivered in that spot start against Pittsburgh is towards the high end of his current ceiling: 22-for-32 passing for 204 yards, one touchdown and one INT, with one three-yard scramble.
In other words, Lewis has some upside … and yet, he needs to improve if he’s going to stick around this league for awhile.
That is about the same challenge facing Moore right now. The game opportunities have not been there, so Moore has been relegated to proving his worth in practices and film sessions.
This coming training camp and preseason, then, stand as important hurdles in Moore’s Detroit career. The Lions do not appear to be rushing him out the door — and they may still believe that he can take over once Hill is ready to leave town.
In claiming Lewis off the waiver wire, though, Detroit certainly has cranked up the temperature on Moore.