Tight end Joseph Fauria had quite a first year in the NFL. He signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent, and he ended up becoming a big-time contributor in the red zone. By the end of 2013, he had 18 catches, 7 of which went for touchdowns. His numbers were quite impressive despite his limited usage, and he is poised to take on a bigger role in 2014.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew talked about the outlook for Fauria's second season last week. Mayhew expressed some concern over the fact that Fauria is going to be learning a new offense for the second year in a row, and he stressed the importance of Fauria developing chemistry with Matthew Stafford beyond the red zone. Mayhew also made it known that he thinks Fauria has the talent to really take his productivity to another level. Via NFLDraftScout.com:
"It’s going to be for him, learning a new offense. It’s going to be his second offense in two years. Getting into a comfort level with Matthew (Stafford). I think Matthew had a comfort level with him in the red area more so than in the field. And then the offensive coordinator feeling comfortable to create opportunities for him to get the ball. So, it’ll be a process. He certainly has the talent level to suggest he can be more productive in the field than he has been."
Mayhew also briefly touched on where Fauria fits in the offense as a tight end -- on the line as a potential blocker or split out wide as another receiving threat. This won't come as a surprise to anybody who watched Fauria play last season, but Mayhew thinks he's more of a "move" tight end.
"I think he’s more of a move guy, I think he’s genetically predisposed to not be on the line of scrimmage as much as some other guys. He’s definitely a gifted athlete, he has great hands."
With Brandon Pettigrew headed for free agency, Fauria is currently the Lions' top returning tight end. Michael Williams could get playing time in a more traditional tight end role as a blocker, and it's not like Fauria will always be lined up out wide; becoming a better blocker is important. However, if the Lions want to best use Fauria's talents, getting him more involved as a receiver, especially in situations that aren't limited to the red zone, is definitely the way to go.