Brian Murphy: Kellen Moore faces another challenge to make Lions' roster

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comJune 15, 2014 

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Detroit Lions quarterback Kellen Moore (17) during an NFL exhibition game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field in Detroit, MI on Thursday night.


— The first person approached college football's all-time winningest quarterback sheepishly, asking if there was any way she could get a photo.

Kellen Moore wrapped his arm around her back and smiled.

A steady stream followed. Young kids. High school students. Moms. Dads. This one is for her grandmother, one mom said as Moore patiently leaned in for one cellphone picture after another.

"I think he's the most famous person in the Treasure Valley," said David Shears, general manager at Kendall Ford of Meridian, by way of introduction Friday at an event at the dealership.

Moore needs no introduction, at least not around here. He's Kellen, the aw-shucks kid from small-town Washington who also happens to be a surgical passer and one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.

In Detroit, where Moore hopes to makes the Lions' roster for a third consecutive season, it is a different story. Moore can walk into any restaurant unmolested, while starter Matthew Stafford attracts all the attention.

Moore's status - will he or won't he make the roster? - has, however, been a running story line for several years. This year is no different. The Lions replaced their coaching staff after last year's disappointing 4-12 season. Moore, the team's No. 3 quarterback for the past two seasons, is learning offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's new system and again facing new competition.

"I've enjoyed it. It's always a little bit of a challenge as far as learning something new as far as terminology and offense, but we've enjoyed it," Moore said. "It's like going from French to Latin. Nothing means the same. But it's football. Once you figure it out, you get comfortable with it."

Rarely is anything comfortable about the NFL, a lesson Moore knows well. Detroit brought in veteran Dan Orlovsky to be the No. 2 quarterback in the offseason and signed undrafted free agent James Franklin to compete during training camp, which begins next month. Moore has bested competitors in his first two seasons and avoided a roster crunch as Detroit kept three quarterbacks on the roster.

"It's probably just as important as any because it's this year. Each year is a big year and I don't think it's any different," said Moore, who has never been on the active roster for an NFL regular-season game. "I really don't worry too much about whatever happens. … Every team, for the most part, brings in four quarterbacks. That's the way it operates. Everything's a competition in the NFL."

Moore, noticeably more muscular than during his playing days at Boise State, is comfortable with who he is and how he can help a team. He doesn't have the running ability of a Colin Kaepernick or the arm strength of Stafford or the size of a Peyton Manning. But his skills have been apparent for a long time, and the same things that wowed coaches at Boise State have impressed new Detroit coach Jim Caldwell.

"Smart, coach's kid, dedicated football player who loves to play the game," new Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters in Detroit during last week's mini-camp. "He's working to improve all the time. He really works extremely hard."

Moore, who turns 26 next month (despite the Internet's insistence that he turns 25), and his wife Julie are expecting the couple's first child (a boy) in late August. That's not ideal timing from a football perspective, but Moore expects to be there. The couple lives in Detroit during football season and in Boise in the offseason.

"We just enjoy being in Boise and taking advantage of all Boise has to offer," Moore said. "We certainly have a lot of connections."

A line was forming again. More people wanting a photo with Moore. More clicks, more smiles.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @murphsturph

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