Kellen Moore, an undrafted free agent from Boise State, beat the odds by making Detroit’s 53-man roster as its No. 3 quarterback.
The Lions told him his fate was 50-50 in meetings earlier Friday. He received the news in a text message from quarterbacks coach Todd Downing just before kickoff while attending Boise State’s game Friday against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.
“Certainly very excited,” Moore said. “Nice to just know some facts and know that you’ve got that opportunity.”
Friday was the deadline to cut rosters from 75 to 53. It’s still possible the Lions could make a change as they assess the players cut by other teams.
“It’s the NFL, you’re never totally comfortable in that,” said Moore, who starred at Prosser High. “There’s ups and downs throughout the season. That roster is small, and there are a lot of dynamics going on.”
Moore is trying to become the first Boise State quarterback to play in an NFL regular-season game — and achieve his childhood dream of playing professionally. He received far more playing time in the exhibition season than any other recent Broncos quarterback, appearing in all four games.
Moore completed 41 of 78 passes for 434 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He played his best game Thursday against the Buffalo Bills, when he led the Lions to a touchdown (he scored on a 1-yard run) and three field-goal attempts despite a rash of dropped passes.
“Kellen played great, all preseason,” starting quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s a smart kid. The guy’s just a winner. He knows how to play the game. He gets in there in practice, and practice doesn’t slow down. He’s up there calling plays. He’s never fumbling stuff around and doing normal rookie stuff.”
Moore, a football junkie who grew up attending his dad’s high school practices at Prosser and watching coaches’ videos he found on the Internet, has tried to enjoy his NFL experience despite the stress.
He spent four months with the Lions, with no guarantees. He lived in a hotel, then with Stafford for a while. His wife, Julie, moved to Michigan, too.
“It’s kind of a unique, fun adventure,” he said. “Julie and I just kind of roll with it and have fun.”
Moore is renowned for his smarts – and his Lions coaches have mentioned that, too – but the NFL offense was still an adjustment. That’s one reason Moore’s play improved from week to week, and why he looked comfortable picking apart the Bills on Thursday.
“It’s just continuing to get comfortable with everything,” he said. “New offense, new environment, new personnel. You get comfortable with things. When you’re comfortable, the game slows down. You throw with a lot more confidence.”
Moore’s job changes now — from learning the offense to helping the defense prepare for opponents, just like when he was a true freshman in Boise.
“The bottom line, you’re still playing football,” Moore said.
REFEREES STILL OUT
The NFL and its on-field referees union failed to reach an agreement when they met Saturday in New York, and the league said it’s proceeding with replacement officials.
The NFL locked out the referees in early June, then hired replacements, whose work in exhibition games has been heavily criticized.
The NFL Referees Association says it’s willing to continue negotiations, but NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “No further talks are scheduled.”
The Rams traded wide receiver Greg Salas to the Patriots for an undisclosed draft pick. … The Vikings acquired cornerback A.J. Jefferson from the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional draft pick in 2013. … Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara probably will miss the season opener against the Cowboys because of a high ankle sprain.