Detroit's Ebron hopes to fit in quickly
MAY 16, 2014 7:18p ET
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Earlier this week, rookie tight end Eric Ebron had a chance to work with a few of Detroit's veterans.
Even first-round draft picks can become star struck.
''When you line up beside Calvin Johnson, and he asks you, `Are you good?' And I'll be like, `Yeah, I'm good,''' Ebron said. ''But you're still shaking, because you're lining up beside Calvin Johnson.''
The Lions expect Ebron to stop shaking by the time the season starts, because they hope he'll be able to make a quick impact. Detroit could have used its first-round pick to shore up the secondary or address some other position of need. Instead the Lions added another pass catcher to an offense that already has several good ones.
Johnson is the team's most dynamic player, of course, and Detroit signed free agent wide receiver Golden Tate earlier this offseason. Running back Reggie Bush caught 54 passes last season, and there's even an accomplished tight end already on the roster in Brandon Pettigrew.
But the Lions have invested a lot in Ebron, so he should have a chance to play as soon as he proves worthy.
''He's working at it,'' coach Jim Caldwell said Friday at rookie minicamp. ''Obviously, he's a very talented guy, and there's a lot of information he's going to be given. He's been here since Monday, and he's done a nice job thus far.''
It's certainly an adjustment period for the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ebron.
''I think I had a migraine 30 seconds after we started going over the playbook, but it's very fun,'' Ebron said. ''Once you grasp it, you can do it full speed, you understand why they're coaching you so hard.''
Ebron caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns in his final season at North Carolina, and Detroit's 2014 draft may be judged on how quickly he fits into the offense.
Ebron said he can already tell his new teammates have high expectations for him.
''They don't have to say it. Sometimes you can just see it on their faces or when they talk to you,'' he said. ''A veteran doesn't come up and say `What's up?' to everybody or introduce themselves. You can just tell that they have respect for you and the things that you think you can accomplish, they want the same thing.''
When the Lions selected Ebron, general manager Martin Mayhew said offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi ranked Ebron No. 2 on his wish list behind Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins went fourth overall to Buffalo.
So far, Ebron has done little to disappoint.
''He's just what he's supposed to be. He's a big, athletic guy that certainly moves extremely well, covers a lot of ground and he's learning quickly,'' Caldwell said. ''So, he's adapting and doing all the things you would anticipate he would do. Let's just put it this way: his reputation preceding him, he's living up to it. But like I said, we've still got to put pads on as well.''
Ebron was in an upbeat mood when he met with reporters Friday. Minicamp can be a whirlwind for any rookie, but he certainly seems to be enjoying himself so far.
''He's engaging. I think as you can see by his personality, he loves the game and has great passion for it,'' Caldwell said. ''Usually when you find a guy that's determined and has great passion, plus you add that to his talent level, and obviously you've got a pretty big upside.''
NOTES: Caldwell is not certain if injured CB Chris Houston will be back by the start of training camp. ... The Lions confirmed that fourth-round pick Larry Webster, fifth-rounder Caraun Reid, seventh-rounder Nate Freese and undrafted free agent A.J. Dalton have all signed contracts. Sixth-round pick TJ Jones has also signed, according to his agent.
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