Fauria continues his quest for a bigger role

Posted May 22, 2014

Joseph Fauria is still expected to be a red zone presence, but he is working to expand his role beyond that.

Like most NFL players, Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria was watching the first round of the NFL Draft with eager anticipation of who his new teammate might be.

When that selection ended up being Eric Ebron, a guy who plays the same position as Fauria, he probably wasn’t as enthusiastic.

Joseph FauriaTE Joseph Fauria (Photo: Gavin Smith)

“When you are in the first round you pick the best player,” Fauria said after OTA practice Wednesday. “At No. 10 the Lions front office thought (Ebron) was the best player and one that’s going to help us win.”

Fauria was a pleasant surprise in a rather unforgettable 2013 season for the Lions. His seven touchdown receptions were second on the team to only Calvin Johnson (12). Not bad for an undrafted rookie free agent out of UCLA.

However, Ebron brings another level of athleticism to the field and the ability to stretch defenses vertically.

Fauria is still expected to have a “strong role in the red zone,” according to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, but Fauria is working to expand his role beyond that.

He said the Lions are still trying to figure out what exactly that role will be in Lombardi’s offense. He’s played in-line, in the slot and even split out wide early this offseason.

“We’re trying it all,” Fauria said. “I think wherever you put me I’ll do well.”

Fauria says this offense is “tight end pass-catching friendly” and gives all three tight ends a chance to make plays.

That doesn’t mean he’s simply going to step aside and let a rookie take some of the snaps he was hoping for this season. Not without earning them, at least.

“I will continue to compete,” Fauria said emphatically.

A competition head coach Jim Caldwell welcomes.

“Obviously, Joe has talent," Caldwell said. "He certainly demonstrated that last year. I still think, obviously, every position there is certainly a lot of competition. That’s what makes you a good team when you do have competition at every spot.

"Guys are scratching and digging, and he’s doing a great job of that. Obviously, you can tell there’s a bit of an intensity about him.

"I think oftentimes you look and most people would think it’s one-for-one, but certainly I’ve been on a number of teams – We had Jacob Tamme, we had Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard all on the same team, and then some. As a matter of fact, Joe Dean Davenport was on that team as well. So, there are enough balls, or I should say, there is enough to go around just in terms of action at that particular position.”