By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Amid positive attention last season for touchdown catches and end zone dances, Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria often got lambasted for a perceived inability to block.
On Monday, Fauria attributed his struggles with blocking to his background.
“I’ll be really blunt with you guys, and you guys can write this – I didn’t block in college,” Fauria said. “I stood up the whole time and I was a slot receiver, an outside receiver. So to be assessed as not being able to block, it isn’t really fair.
“I’m kind of bitter about that because I didn’t have to block,” Fauria added. “When I came here, I did my thing, but yet I was pegged with this certain anomaly that I couldn’t block. But I’ve been working on it and getting better and taking strides forward and going uphill. I don’t plan on going down. I want to keep getting better and better and better, slowly improving here and there. I’m going to just keep proving them wrong. That’s what I always do.”
With his rookie year and a subsequent offseason of work under his belt, Fauria has been blocking better, and he credits the improvement to his coaches and to having as clearer mind to absorb their teaching.
“I’m not worrying about if I’m – doing the numbers game, if I’m going to make the team, or if I‘m going to do this, if I’m going to do this dance, or if I’m going to be able to stretch before practice because I don’t know the schedule because I’m a rookie,” Fauria said. “All those things were kind of messing my brain up a little bit. I wasn’t ready – my first year in the NFL. Now I’m a veteran and I know what to expect and it just comes with me doing my job.”
Fellow Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew has told reporters Fauria does a better job blocking than people give him credit for. Fauria appreciates – and agrees with – the sentiment, though he noted Pettigrew might be a bit biased because the two are friends.
Fauria knows he has to keep proving himself on the field.
“I’ve got to string those kind of games, those kind of plays together,” Fauria said. “I can’t break the string. I can’t cut the string with a bad block here and there that’s vital to a bad play or something like that. I’ve got to keep it going and keep helping my team win, and whether that’s catching the ball or blocking, I’m going to do so because that’s what’s asked of me.”
Fauria excelled in the red zone in 2013, but his role encompasses more than that, which has challenged him. The challenge, however, is one he is happy to accept.
“I’m out there, I’m being put in different situations that are outside of my strength, which is the red zone, and there might be a smidge of being a little uncomfortable, but that’s what being a pro is, is being put in uncomfortable situations and making them comfortable in the preseason,” Fauria said, “and that’s what the preseason’s for, and earning my coaches’ and teammates’ trust out there. I would assess that [the preseason game] was a job well done. However, there’s a lot of room to improve.”