DETROIT The Detroit Lions final tune-up before the regular season last night wasn t a total turnoff.
Sure, they lost 20-13 to former Lions coach Dick Jauron and the previously winless Buffalo Bills in their exhibition finale at Ford Field.
They dropped their last three preseason games to finish 1-3 under rookie boss Rod Marinelli.
Still, there were some individual bright spots for the Lions heading into their Sept. 10 home opener against the Super Bowl runner-up Seattle Seahawks.
Not many, mind you.
Just a few.
Lions quarterback Josh McCown completed 11 of 14 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
With starting quarterback Jon Kitna sitting this one out, along with several other starters, the battle of the backups went to veteran Josh McCown, who out-dueled second-year pro Dan Orlovsky.
McCown, signed to a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal in the offseason, has been listed No. 2 on the Lions depth chart since the start of training camp.
However, he relieved Orlovsky in the first two exhibition games before sitting out last Friday s matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
McCown finally got his first start last night.
He was solid and exhibited much more athletic ability than Orlovsky.
McCown completed 11 of 14 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
He also tossed a seven-yard scoring pass to receiver Eddie Drummond early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The scoring drive covered 93 yards and took 14 plays.
I was pretty happy with the way I played, McCown said. I made a few mistakes, but I think I did a lot of positive things.
McCown, 27, spent the last four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
He started 22 games and threw for 5,431 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also tossed 29 interceptions.
He eventually lost his starting job to former MVP Kurt Warner last season. When the Cardinals expressed no interest in signing McCown at the end of last year, he hooked on with the Lions.
Orlovsky, Detroit s fifth-round pick a year ago, played well in the Lions exhibition opener against the Denver Broncos, but he has struggled lately.
Orlovsky hit on 9 of 14 passes for 73 yards in the second half, but he was sacked three times, including once on a critical third-down play at Buffalo s 18 in the fourth quarter.
There s no need to worry: McCown (sacked once) and Orlovsky are both safe.
So is rookie tailback Brian Calhoun, a third-round pick. He gained 58 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes for 26 yards while subbing for starter Kevin Jones.
The futures of former No. 1 draft picks Charles Rogers and Mike Williams aren t nearly as secure.
Neither one played until the second half against Buffalo.
Rogers almost certainly will get released at 6 p.m. tomorrow when NFL teams have to trim their rosters to 53 players, with Williams likely to survive.
Injuries and suspensions have rocked Rogers since he was drafted No. 1 out of Michigan State by the Lions in 2003.
He has appeared in just 14 games the last three seasons. And right now, Rogers is behind three players Glenn Martinez, Mike Furrey and Drummond, who had five catches for 39 yards.
Rogers had just one reception a three-yarder early in the third quarter. Williams, a first-round pick from Southern Cal in 2005, was held without a catch.
Come tomorrow, they will either be backups or busts.
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