Monday, October 14, 2013
Fauria's impact on Lions' TE plans
By Tom Carpenter
Last week, I took a look at some possible offseason free-agent and draft replacements for the Detroit Lions, if they choose to cut ties with tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and/or Tony Scheffler, who are prone to drops and will be unrestricted free agents at season's end. However, the Lions seemingly have a secret weapon in undrafted free agent Joseph Fauria. Actually, he's not much of a secret after catching three touchdown passes against the Cleveland Browns Sunday. Nonetheless, how will his success affect how the Lions handle their TE corps in the offseason?
In order for the organization to double down on Fauria as an impact tight end, he's going to have to do more than just catch touchdowns (apologies to Cris Carter). So far this season, he has reeled in seven of nine targets for five touchdowns. Clearly that makes him a tremendous red-zone threat, but he will need to prove worthy of a bigger role on the rest of the field in order to for the Lions to invest in him as a productive all-around tight end.
Scheffler was sidelined Sunday due to a concussion, and a continued absence from him may allow Fauria the chance to expand his role. Pettigrew spent a lot of time staying on the line Sunday to block against the Browns' blitz-heavy defense. He's a decent blocker, which likely will keep him on the field often, even if he continues to drop passes. Fauria has done a pretty good job as a blocker this season, too, though he has a small sample size with just 76 snaps thus far.
With all of this in mind, we should expect the Lions to give Fauria more chances to play outside of the red zone as the season progresses. That would give him more opportunities to prove worthy of a long-term investment during the offseason, when the club is deciding what to do with Pettigrew and Scheffler.