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Friday, May 9, 2014
Morning Roar: What Ebron means for Fauria

By Michael Rothstein

The Lions, lying in wait for all of the tight ends....

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- After the initial surprise of the Detroit Lions taking tight end Eric Ebron in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday instead of a defensive player, one of the next thoughts was somewhat obvious.

What does this mean for Joseph Fauria, last season's breakout undrafted free-agent rookie? Fauria, who played collegiately at UCLA, went from just another player in training camp to a legitimate dancing/scoring option for the Lions early in the season.

However, his role was fairly limited. He was a big target with good hands who was a red zone threat for Detroit in 2013 with seven of his 18 receptions throughout the season being touchdowns.

He was a tight end who could run down the field and jump to catch the ball, but he wasn't much of a blocker and didn't exactly run a full route tree.

Now Ebron comes in, and he isn't known as much of a blocker, either, and has a speed/size component the Lions are hoping creates mismatches. This might mean the expanded role Fauria was hoping for in his second year in Detroit might be a bit more difficult now.

"Listen, Joseph is still going to have a strong role in the red zone," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. "There is nothing to say that we aren't going to have three tight ends on the field at some point. Every game is different, every game plan is different.

"But Joe has impressed me in the short time we have been able to work with him. I think it is bad for a player to look at, 'Hey, we just drafted a guy at my position. That means that I am out of favor.' Joe is not out of favor."

He may not be out of favor, but his route to more playing time just became much more difficult.

Ebron is a first round pick. Brandon Pettigrew is a former first round pick who just re-signed with the Lions for three more seasons. This probably means he is no better than the third tight end on the roster, depending on what the team plans on doing with last season's seventh round pick, Michael Williams, who is more of a blocker than pass catcher.

And to the Lions, there seems to be a difference in level between Fauria and Ebron.

"Obviously they are two different guys in terms of their skill level," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. "Joe has a skill level and Eric has a skill level but he is a little different type of guy.

"We will be able to utilize every bit of talent that we have, that's for certain. I can tell you when you talk to Matthew Stafford he will tell you that you can never have too many weapons and this just adds another weapon for us."

How it really changes what Fauria is able to do remains to be seen.

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