Joseph Fauria dunks the ball over the crossbar after a fourth-quarter TD Sunday in Cleveland. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park – Joseph Fauria isn't going to be able to sneak up on anybody any more.
Not that a 6-7 rookie tight end who dances like he's auditioning for a boy band was all that subtle in the first place, but he's going to be discussed in a lot more defensive meeting rooms across the league after his three-touchdown effort Sunday.
Or is he?
"I think that would depend," coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. "If he starts to get more attention, somebody has to get less. Generally, that’s Calvin (Johnson) for us. Not many defenses want to do that."
True statement. Even though Johnson was playing with an ailing right knee and far below his All-Pro best, the Browns still double-teamed him in the red zone. And that left Fauria with single coverage on the other side.
"A lot has been made of the dynamic between Reggie (Bush) and Calvin," Schwartz said. "I think there is, in the red zone particularly, another dynamic there that can force defenses to be spread thin a little bit."
Fauria has caught seven passes this season, five for touchdowns. Johnson has been on the field for each one. Schwartz explained the pressure Johnson and Bush put on a defense, particularly inside the 20.
"If you want to stop the run and you have to get eight guys in the box, that leaves you one guy that you can double," he said. "If (the double team) goes to Calvin, then a guy like Joe or any of our other potential receivers on the play is singled up.
"If you want to double both of them, you’re going to be light in the run game. I think we have proven that we can run the ball across the goal line just as well as throw it."
Whether defenses will continue to honor Johnson with double teams in the red zone will depend on how quickly the knee heels. Either way, Fauria may find that he's more of a marked man Sunday against the Bengals.
"All our players can do a little bit more," Schwartz said. "He’s a young player. There’s still a lot of things that he’s working on. … Right now we’re just trying to find the best way to use guys and we're trying to put him on the field in situations that he can respond the best."
Fauria can ask Browns tight end Jordan Cameron what it feels like to be the focal point of a defensive game-plan. The Lions showed him multiple coverages, man and zone. And he saw a lot of safety Louis Delmas.
"Yeah, they had some (different) coverages here and there," Cameron said. "I am going to have to look at the film to see what they did."
The Lions limited Cameron to five catches for 64 yards. Three of those catches came late in the game when the Lions were in prevent mode.
"He’s a good player," Schwartz said. "He was a big part of our defensive game plan. We were trying to stay over top of him and trying to limit his big plays. He's made a lot of them… I think we did limit his catches and his plays down the field."
But, as Schwartz pointed out, there was a price to pay for the attention on Cameron. Receiver Josh Gordon got loose, with seven catches for 126 yards.