Fauria catches on with Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Joseph Fauria calls himself an “eighth-round pick.”

The problem is, there are only seven rounds in the NFL Draft.

Fauria, who showed flashes of his pass-catching ability during the Detroit Lions’ rookie minicamp over the weekend, is clearly using not getting drafted as motivation now.

“I’ve got a permanent chip on my shoulder,” he said following Sunday’s practice. “You look on Wikipedia, it’ll say ‘undrafted free agent’ for the rest of my life.

“That doesn’t define me. It’s a small footnote in my life and the rest of my career. Hopefully, it’s a long career.”

Fauria, the nephew of former NFL tight end Christian Fauria, was used as a slot receiver during his senior year at UCLA.

He caught 12 touchdown passes, the same number as West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, who was the No. 8 pick overall by St. Louis.

At 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, however, Fauria projects as a tight end in the pros, if he can overcome some obstacles to win a roster spot.

“There’s a lot of negatives next to my name,” Fauria admitted.

He plans to disprove every one of them.

Although Fauria can be a downfield threat in the pass game, there are definitely questions about his blocking ability.

“I don’t want to complain too much, but I think it came down to it wasn’t really asked of me when I was lined up as a receiver,” Fauria explained. “But right now, I’m trying to get better at that as much as possible so I can prove whoever did say that, whoever does think that, wrong.

“I’m going to give my best effort. That was also a thing in the past where people didn’t think I gave enough effort. I’m going to put all those naysayers aside and work my tush off and block my butt off, too.”

The tight-end position typically requires a dual role as a special-teams contributor, too, in the NFL, especially for back-ups.

Fauria, who played his freshman year at Notre Dame before getting suspended and transferring to UCLA, said he didn’t play much on special teams for the Bruins.

“I’m open for it,” Fauria said. “I’m going to do it. Whatever it takes.

“It’s a whole new attitude, a whole new approach to this. You’re not the guy anymore. I’m an undrafted rookie. I’ve got to do whatever I can to make this team.”

Fauria said he played board games with his family during the draft to try to take his mind off the disappointment of not getting picked.

What game did they play?

“’Loaded Questions,’” he told reporters interviewing him.

“Kind of like you guys,” Fauria added with a smile.

When he wasn’t one of the 254 players selected, Fauria received several free-agent offers and chose to sign with the Lions, who have two tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, entering the final year of their contracts.

Now Fauria’s determined to prove he belongs in the NFL despite the seven-round snub.

 “All of us in our lives go through trials and tribulations,” Fauria said. “I’m the type of guy who would rather put on a smile because there’s better days.”

Offensive guard Larry Warford, a third-round draft pick, participated in the individual drills but was held out of the team portion of Sunday’s practice after getting accidentally elbowed in his neck a day earlier.

 “The initial pain was pretty bad,” Warford said. “But I’m fine. They just kept me out of practice for precautionary reasons. It’s nothing serious at all.”