As the offseason winds down, we're going to project each position on the Detroit Lions depth chart and also take a look at some training camp battles. Next up is the tight end position.
Starter: Eric Ebron | Top backup: Brandon Pettigrew | Third string: Joseph Fauria
The Lions' tight ends had a pretty disappointing 2014 season, but hopes are high for this group in 2015. That's especially the case for Eric Ebron, who became the starting tight end in the second half of last season. He is expected to be the starter going forward, and the Lions are hoping that he will develop into their No. 3 receiving option behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
Brandon Pettigrew, the previous starter, will likely continue to see a limited role in the passing game. His main contribution is expected to come as an inline blocker, although he should probably have more than 10 catches and 70 yards, which were his numbers from last season.
The final tight end expected to make the 53-man roster is Joseph Fauria. An ankle injury allegedly caused by a peeing dog derailed his sophomore campaign, and he was still limited by the ailment this spring. This season, Fauria seems destined for the red-zone specialist role he had in his rookie year, but that's assuming he's able to finally get healthy.
Other players: Jordan Thompson, Casey Pierce, David Ausberry
Rounding out the position are three players unlikely to make the team. Jordan Thompson had a brief stint on the active roster last year, but he was mostly on the practice squad. Casey Pierce, meanwhile, is an undrafted rookie, and David Ausberry was just signed in June as extra depth. Ausberry could be someone to watch if Fauria remains injured going forward.
Featured camp battle: Joseph Fauria vs. his injured ankle
Other camp battles to watch: Jordan Thompson vs. Casey Pierce for a spot on the practice squad
As long as everybody is healthy, there aren't really any question marks about which tight ends are going to make the team or what the depth chart is going to look like. For that reason, the main camp battle here is Fauria simply getting his injured ankle back to full health. The secondary camp battle revolves around whether Thompson will be able to retain his spot on the practice squad for another season.