LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Fauria ready for bigger role; closing in on 1,000 yards and Linehan on play calling

Posted Dec 19, 2013

The Lions could rely on Joe Fauria to play a bigger role on Sunday if Brandon Pettigrew's injured ankle doesn't allow him to play

All Joseph Fauria does is catch touchdowns. At least that's the perception out there. He's scored seven times on 12 catches.

Fauria could be asked to do a whole lot more on Sunday, however, with tight end Brandon Pettigrew still on the mend with an ankle injury.

"I suspect my role to be increased," Fauria said. "I'm making sure that I'm prepared. I knew my role as a backup, now that's changed.

"In the NFL you have only so many guys to work with and when a guy goes down other people have to answer the call."

Pettigrew is one of the best all-around tight ends in the game with his ability to block being a huge part of his success.

"I'm aware that I'm (labeled) with the whole 'he can't block thing,' but I think I made this team because I proved I'm able to and capable of doing that. I think I've blocked more than I've run routes since I've been here."

Fauria has a large frame at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds and he's been working on his flexibility and center of gravity when blocking. It's something he continues to work on and could be on display Sunday against the New York Giants.

"Well we have different ways we can work it," head coach Jim Schwartz said of the possibility of playing without Pettigrew. "We worked it at the end of that game.

"We have Joe Fauria. Dorin Dickerson has done a nice job for us as he has developed. We can use extra offensive linemen. We could use four wide receivers. There are a lot of different ways that we can go. We have done that before."

1,000-YARD RUSHER

Reggie BushReggie Bush is just 60 yards away from reach 1,000 yards. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

The Lions haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Kevin Jones in 2004, but that could change Sunday if Reggie Bush records 60 rushing yards.

"Hopefully I can break that and that would be nice to add to the resume," he said this week.

"I think it's tough to run the ball in this league and to be able to gain a 1,000 yards. I think it is (a benchmark)."

If he accomplishes the feat, it would be the be just the second time in his career he's rushed for 1,000 yards in a season (1,086 in 2011 with Miami).

Bush has been everything the Lions hoped he'd be when they signed him as a free agent this offseason. He ranks fifth in NFL with 116.9 scrimmage yards per game.

"He's given us a running back with a run/pass threat," center Dominic Raiola said. "We were looking for a running back and that's what he is. You see he's a hard runner ... and we like what we have in Reggie."

In three career meetings with the New York Giants, Bush has two 100-yard rush games.

"He has certainly added credibility to our run game, as well as Joique (Bell)," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

"Between the two of them the combination's been pretty much what we were hoping for."

DEFENDING THE CALL

Two of Matthew Stafford's three interceptions thrown in Monday's loss to Baltimore came on short third-down plays. The first on 3rd and 1 and the second on 3rd and 2. Both after the Lions had run the ball successfully the play before.

Linehan was asked about those play calls on Thursday and defended his choice to throw it.

"When you do throw when you're in that third and that one, two, three zone, you're not expecting zone and we got what we were looking for there, we just didn't end up executing the play," he said.

He said the reasoning behind the empty-back sets was to spread the defense out and get favorable matchups.

"You can go watch the opening series of the Green Bay game and see, maybe one, get a couple really good matchups early like that and that's really it more than anything," he said.

"But that's what we do. A lot of teams (do that), we're not unlike anybody. It's not a new concept, I think a lot of people like that. It's a lot easier to force people to figure out who's covering who when you do that.”