Is Jake Rudock the Lions' QB of the future?

Have we seen the future quarterback of the Detroit Lions? Or at least the future backup quarterback of the Lions?

It's early _ very early _ but Jake Rudock delivered about as well as anyone could have hoped in his professional debut Friday and has set in motion thoughts about his potential as the Lions' signal caller.

Playing in the second half of the exhibition opener at Pittsburgh, Rudock looked poised, decisive and quite mobile as he led the Lions to a second-half rally and a victory. In other words, the rookie sixth-round draft pick from Michigan looked very un-rookie-like.

After reviewing the game film, coach Jim Caldwell praised Rudock's performance Saturday and compared his ability to adjust to a new system with the Lions just as he did with the Wolverines.

"He's shown the same ability here, nothing seems to rattle him," Caldwell said. "He's got a great temperament, but he's also a great competitor."

Rudock played 27 snaps and was 8-of-11 for 72 yards with a touchdown pass to Jace Billingsley. He also scrambled well with a long run of 17 yards.

"Definitely some good things out there," Rudock said, "and obviously there's always room for improvement, things to improve upon: a little bit more accuracy on some of the passes. My decision making was pretty solid. But obviously there's things to work on and to keep learning."

Yes, Rudock was not perfect playing mostly against the Steelers' third-string defense. He overthrew Billingsley on second-and-9, fumbled a snap and had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by Devaunte Sigler, an undrafted rookie and former brick mason.

"Obviously there's still more to get put in and we need to stay on top of that, honestly," Rudock said. "And just keep working on that and trying to be crisp and confident with our reads. If there's some you're not sure of, talk to the coaches and try to figure that out. You don't want to go out there and get a play you're not comfortable with. Just try to work hard each night when you get back (to the team hotel)."

But there was more good than bad. After he overthrew Billingsley, Rudock went right back to Billingsley on the next play with a short pass that netted a 27-yard TD when Billingsley made two defenders miss.

"I felt good, I felt confident," Rudock said. "I think that's a big testament to our coaches putting so many hours into me and allowing me to prepare and get better. And obviously our offensive line, too, did a great job giving me a good, clean pocket. Those guys did a great job for us."

The offensive line deserved credit for keeping defenders off Rudock, but he also did his part.

On his third play of the game, Rudock showed good awareness of the play clock to get the snap off and hit Quinshad Davis with a quick throw. On the next play, he got a good block by Orson Charles and scrambled 17 yards.

Rudock fit a nice ball in a tight window to Davis on a two-point conversion, showed good pocket awareness throughout and seemed to have a precocious understanding that discretion is often the better part of valor for NFL quarterbacks.

"I think it just comes down to converting those third downs, knowing the situation, knowing if it's second-and-10 you don't have to get it all back on that down right there," he said. "You can take a check down or go through your reads if (your guy's) not there.

"Another thing is just trying to get completions any way you can. If it's third-and-5 and it's incomplete, you're off the field. But if you throw it and a guy at least catches it, we have a chance. So it's just about trying to move the stick every time."