MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: For Joseph Fauria and La'Adrian Waddle, not getting a phone call was a dream come true

Posted Sep 3, 2013

Both undrafted rookies survived the final cut, realizing a dream after an offseason of hard work

Joseph FauriaTE Joseph Fauria wearing his new jersey, No. 80.

There are some days when the best thing that can happen is for the telephone not to ring.

Saturday was one of those days for LaAdrian Waddle and Joseph Fauria, two rookies competing for spots on the Lions' regular season roster after being passed over by all 32 teams in the April draft.

Cut-down day is one of the most agonizing days of the season for everyone involved – players, coaches and front office members alike. Careers end sooner than expected for veterans, and they end before they ever get started for rookies who go through the offseason and training camp with high hopes of playing in the NFL.

Waddle and Fauria survived it. They got the news that they had made the Lions' 53-player active roster by the modern form of communication -- by text messages.

Waddle, an offensive tackle from Texas Tech, was notified by offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn. Fauria, a tight end from UCLA, got the word from veteran tight end Tony Scheffler.

Until then, no news was good news for both rookies.

"The lack of a phone call is the best thing that's happened to me so far," Fauria said after practice Tuesday.

The Lions kept three tight ends – veterans Brandon Pettigrew and Scheffler, and Fauria. Michael Williams, a seventh-round draft pick from Alabama, was put on injured reserve with a broken hand.

Nine offensive linemen made the cut. Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard and Waddle are the other tackles.

Fauria and Waddle both signed with the Lions as free agents soon after the draft ended on April 27. The Lions' front office saw something they liked in both players. Fauria caught 20 TD passes in 40 games for UCLA. At a little over 6-7, he is a big target with exceptional hands.

Waddle played left tackle primarily at Texas Tech. He was used more often at right tackle in the preseason and handled himself well.

Although both knew they'd made good impressions, that didn't guarantee surviving the cut.

"The deadline came, and I got a text from my coach (Washburn) saying I'd made the 53," Waddle said. "It was just a great feeling. I accomplished what I came here to accomplish.

"I just have to keep working up from here."

Fauria saw the first sign of his new status after the cuts deadline. He was assigned a regular locker along the wall. The temporary stalls in the middle of the locker room have been taken away ... until next year.

"No more vending-machine locker," Fauria said, referring to his old stall being next to the pop cooler.