- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Joseph Fauria still needs to grow: The rookie from UCLA had one of the best games ever for a Lions tight end on Sunday, catching three touchdown passes -- the most by any Lions tight end since the AFL-NFL merger. He’s a fantastic red zone threat who creates mismatches against any cornerback or safety he goes up against in the end zone. He also showed a little bit of the ability to stretch the field in single coverage against the Browns.
But the thing for Fauria is consistency. He has an insane amount of skill and could turn into Detroit’s next great tight end, but he still needs to find a way to become more involved in the Lions' offense outside of red zone plays. He knows this and discussed it last week before his breakout game. What Sunday should do is give him more opportunities in games to show he has made that adjustment. Another bonus with Fauria: He has yet to drop a pass this season.
Calvin Johnson’s health: He left the locker room Sunday with a giant wrap on his right leg, and that should be expected considering he still isn’t 100 percent. But eventually teams will take a chance that Johnson isn’t able to really be the deep threat he is when healthy and sneak up more. At that point, until he is healthy, Detroit needs to figure out one of two options: either have Johnson go deep anyway and see what happens or work him as the main underneath receiver and send someone else deep who could break down defenses. The problem is, the Lions don’t have a lot of those guys.
Levy having a special season: After intercepting two passes and leading Detroit in tackles, LB DeAndre Levy deemed his performance “OK, other than the two picks, I don’t think I played too well.” That Levy is that critical of himself is part of why he has been having a monster season for Detroit. He has now intercepted four passes this season and been the Lions’ main screen killer. He is having a Pro Bowl-level year and, along with fellow linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Ashlee Palmer, has allowed both the defensive line and secondary to be able to focus on their specific jobs.
Drops are an issue: Once again, Detroit’s pass-catchers are struggling to hold on to the ball. The Lions dropped 9.3 percent of Matthew Stafford’s passes on Sunday and continue to lead the league in this statistic, dropping 8.5 percent of Stafford’s attempts. Among qualifying pass-catchers, Reggie Bush is fourth in the NFL, dropping 17.2 percent of the attempts Stafford throws to him. This is where the Lions miss Nate Burleson, who has 19 receptions and only one drop.