On Thursday, the Lions held an OTA (just for veterans, since rookies couldn't yet report). I love these things, partly because of the stories, the rumors, and the hype that comes trickling out. There is actual football happening in Allen Park, and every tidbit that makes it to the public--no matter how insigificant--will be pounced upon, hoarded, and nibbled upon for weeks by the information-starved Lions fans. So far, there have only been a few tasty morsels that have leaked out. Of them, I'm most intrigued by this one, from Calos Monarrez at the Freep:
"The Lions finished off a spirited practice session at Allen Park with Drew Stanton throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Will Heller that elicited hoots and hollers from players — and a nod from coach Jim Schwartz."We're not told about the nature of this play--the formation, the personnel package, the down-and-distance--nor of any of the plays before or after it. However, given that the target was Will Heller--the block-first TE acquired in free agency--I'm willing to bet this was in short yardage drills, or possibly at the end of a drive. It's not a SportsCenter moment, but it brings up a point I've been meaning to make for quite some time: Drew Stanton's a gamer.
There are some athletes that look fantastic in practice, but never seem to bring it in games. Most reading this blog will remember Matt Millen famously referring to an unnamed Lion as a "devout coward"--a player who looks like a legit impact player all week, but disappears on Sunday (PFT, back in the day, reported that it was WR Scotty Anderson). But Drew Stanton? Drew's the other way around. It seems as though every year, we hear reports of Drew having some rough throws in pracice, having difficulty throwing a spiral, or still needing a lot of polish. However, the tiny scraps of pre- and regular-season action he's seen have been superlative. This meshes with career at Michigan State, where he was often the only player going out there and giving it his all.
I wonder--emphasis on wonder--if Drew has to be in a competitive situation in order to perform like he's capable of performing. Though he's rarely a standout in shorts-and-T-shirt work, Drew always brings it when he's given the ball and told to go make a play. The problem is that Drew's almost never been given the ball--especially not when the lights are on and the ammo is live. On Thursday, I hope he had one of those moments: eleven on eleven, practicing short-yardage, the offense and defense jawing at each other, the last play of a long practice session--did it bring out the Drew we saw at MSU? Did the playmaking instincts kick in, and guide him to find the open man for the score? All we really know is that that there was a lot of hooting and hollering, and the coaches liked what they saw. Maybe it was a weight placed on the "Drew is our #3 Quarterback" side of the scale. Maybe the decision's already been made one way or the other. At the very least, it didn't hurt.
Again, this is all extrapolated from one little quote about one little play in a veterans-only OTA months before the season starts--but that's the magic of this time of year: trying to snare wisps of hints of rumors of football out of the ether, and weave them into something we can wrap around ourselves until autumn.