Drafting Ebron made Fauria the odd-man out
MAY 22, 2014 11:35a ET
Fauria is a hybrid tight end/receiver, just like Ebron. But Fauria went undrafted a year ago coming out of UCLA while Ebron was the No. 10 pick overall this year out of North Carolina.
Whatever Fauria can do, Ebron is supposed to do better.
Jim Caldwell, the Lions' new coach, made a point shortly after Ebron was drafted to establish that Fauria still has a role on this team, particularly in the red zone, which is where the surprising rookie made his mark last season.
Fauria, however, knows he's going to have to prove himself day in and day out.
"I will continue to compete," he said adamantly. "Football's always a fight. No matter what. Matt's (quarterback Matthew Stafford) still fighting. He's trying to get better. He's fighting.
"It's football. It's professional football. We're always fighting."
Asked about his initial reaction to the Lions drafting the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ebron even though the team had needs on defense, Fauria said simply, "When you're in the first round, you take the best player. At No. 10, the Lions' front office thought that was the best player. He's going to help our team win."
Fauria (6-7, 255 pounds) has gained a lot of notoriety, both locally and nationally, with his end-zone dances. Seven of his 18 catches went for touchdowns.
He certainly likes to have his share of fun, but Fauria seems a little more serious this year, likely because of Ebron's addition.
"Joe has talent," Caldwell said. "He demonstrated that last year. There is a lot of competition (at tight end). That's what makes you a good team.
"Guys are scratching and digging. He's doing a great job of that. You can tell there's a bit of intensity about him.
"There is room enough for a number of talented guys at that position. That's the key. There is enough to go around just in terms of action at that particular position."
Fauria's role last year, under the previous coaching staff with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, was limited mostly to the red zone, where he could use his height and length to create mismatches against smaller defenders.
He's not known as a good blocker -- that's starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew's forte -- so Fauria needs to become a more complete player to have any chance of expanding on that red-zone role, especially with Ebron added to the mix.
"We're still figuring out what that role is and we will continue to figure that out," Fauria said.
“It's professional football. We're always fighting.”
Fortunately for him, the Lions' offense under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, previously the quarterbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints, puts a big emphasis on creating mismatches with the hybrid tight end/receiver types.
"I think it fits perfectly," Fauria said. "Guys in the New Orleans offense thrived in this offense, like Jimmy Graham, Ben Watson. This is tight-end friendly. Tight-end pass-catching friendly. It gives everybody a chance to make some plays.
"We're trying it all. I'm (lined up) out wide, I'm in the backfield, so is 'Grew' (Pettigrew), so is 'E' (Ebron). We're all trying to get out there and get on the field anyway we can. I think I can fit anywhere. Wherever you put me, I'll do well."
--- Defensive tackle Nick Fairley missed practice again Wednesday following a recent medical procedure. He has been getting treated lately for sleep apnea.
--- Michael Williams, a seventh-round draft pick last year who missed his rookie season because of a broken hand, has been moved from tight end to offensive tackle.
--- The Lions gave receiver Golden Tate permission to miss Wednesday so he could join his former team, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, on its visit to meet President Obama at the White House.
"I think that's an important moment, having had the great pleasure of going to the White House on a couple of occasions and having the opportunity to shake the president's hand," Caldwell said. "You don't know exactly when you're going to be there the next time, if you'll ever get there again. There are no guarantees.
"For him to miss out on that opportunity, I thought would not be good. I understand how special it is."