Lions training camp preview: A (finally!) settled QB room

USA Today

The Detroit Lions will open the 2024 training camp with a fully established quarterbacking corps. No newcomers, no battles, no drama.

Yeah, it’s been a while…

The Lions are set with Jared Goff as the firmly entrenched veteran starter, backed up by Hendon Hooker. The No. 3 QB is veteran Nate Sudfeld, who, like Hooker, is in his second season in Detroit. Outside of a major injury or a catastrophic preseason from Hooker, nothing that happens between now and Week 1 will alter any of that.


Jared Goff

Goff enters the 2024 Lions training camp with a hefty new contract extension he earned by leading the Lions to a top-five offense and two playoff victories after last season. Goff’s precision, sharp decisions and willingness to distribute the ball to anyone on the offense are a fantastic fit in Ben Johnson’s offense. The Lions smartly designed the offense around what Goff does well, and their faith in the 2016 No. 1 overall pick has been rewarded handsomely. 

Long gone are the days when fans–not to mention certain media outlets–questioned if the likes of Tim Boyle or David Blough could push Goff into a reserve role. Goff has established himself as a bright passer and field general worthy of his recent Pro Bowl nods. 

The situation behind Goff is a lot more settled and stable, too; at least, that’s the intent. After a decade of having one of the worst backup QB situations in the league, Detroit just might finally have some quality depth. They’ve at least tried to solve the long-running problem with some sense of permanence with Hendon Hooker.

Hendon Hooker

Hooker missed nearly all of his rookie campaign as he recovered from knee surgery. It was a preexisting issue the Lions knew about, one that kept the third-rounder from Tennessee from participating in anything other than mental reps during last year’s training camp.

This year is different. Hooker is the unquestioned No. 2 behind Goff after a healthy offseason. His spring work in OTAs and minicamp was simultaneously encouraging and frustrating, something Hooker himself talked about after an early practice session.

Those camp and preseason reps are definitely needed for Hooker to get more natural. He said it himself in OTAs: Hooker overthinks, and bad things happen, but when he just plays, he’s been quite good. Coaxing the “quite good” more frequently and consistently is the goal for QB coach Mark Brunell and the Lions offensive staff in this training camp and preseason.

Nate Sudfeld

Sudfeld fizzled quickly last summer as the No. 2, but in that process he accomplished a couple of genuine positives. First, he proved to be a reliable, savvy sounding board for Goff — a fellow veteran Goff respects and also isn’t threatened by on the roster. They see football and read defenses in similar ways, and that’s a feedback loop from which Goff benefits.

Secondly, he learned Ben Johnson’s complex, innovative playbook. Even though he struggles to deliver consistently accurate and timely passes, Sudfeld can go right out onto the field and the Lions don’t really have to pare down the playbook.

As a bonus, Sudfeld isn’t going to command much demand if the Lions, as expected, roll with only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and ultimately release him. A nice practice squad paycheck should lock up Sudfeld for another season as a No. 3 quarterback without committing any extra resources to it.

Detroit doesn’t have a fourth QB on the roster and none are expected, barring any unfortunate injuries. Hooker is the team’s developmental quarterback and he sorely needs all those reps that might get pilfered by bringing in a “camp arm.”

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