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Joseph Fauria strives for Jimmy Graham-type output

With new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi declaring that he's bringing the New Orleans Saints' playbook to Detroit, Lions tight end Joseph Fauria is upping his personal expectations.

The undrafted rookie compared himself with Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

"I have a similar background to (Graham) with basketball and similar height and the way we play," he told the Lionsofficial team website in a phone conversation. "I'm not calling myself Jimmy Graham, but I strive to have the kind of production he has. I think I can contribute very similarly to how he has with the Saints."

The height and basketball comparison are about where the comparison ends. Fauria, in his first season, didn't display the athleticism, hands or ball skills that Graham possesses.

Fauria did one thing very well: catch touchdowns. Seven of his 18 total catches were in the end zone.

That is not to say the UCLA product can't make the leap from Year 1 to Year 2. Graham's production skyrocketed from 31 catches his rookie season to 99 in his second.

Lombardi's offense will certainly help Fauria create matchup problems. The tight end could also see his role increase if, as we project in our Lions offseason forecast, incumbent starter Brandon Pettigrew walks in free agency.

Fauria understands critics will pick apart his weaknesses this season.

"Whether it's the old adage that Joe Fauria can't block -- which I think people that actually watched the season know I can now -- or I'm not fast enough or can't run routes," he said. "I just want to keep getting better at all of that and work on my own style of play. I want to be a jack of all trades but I also want to be master of what I can be master of."

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One issue for Fauria (aside from using the third person) is not that he "can't block" -- he certainly improved as the season progressed -- it's whether his new coordinator trusts him to block. His last one did not.

It's good for young players to strive to emulate the best at his position -- of which Graham is unquestionably. But it's folly to expect anything close to Graham's production at this stage, regardless of what playbook is used.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys huddle with Seahawks trio Michael Robinson, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant before unpacking Cleveland's week of chaos.

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