July 30, 2014 at 9:10 am

Eric Ebron to play rookie season with Lions under mother's watchful eye

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Allen Park — Eric Ebron’s fiancée Brittany Rountree won’t be in Michigan this year as she finishes her senior year at North Carolina, but the Lions first-round pick will have a female roommate.

“It’s my mama,” Ebron said Tuesday. “I’ve been living with her for 21 years. One more year ain’t going to matter.”

Many 21-year-olds try to escape home as soon as possible, but Ebron will spend the next year with his mother at his house in Metro Detroit.

“He’s been saying that since he was little when he gets a lot of money he’s going to take care of his mama,” said Gina Jackson, Ebron’s mother who recently retired from her job as a nurse’s assistant.

And, Ebron stayed true to his word.

“When your mom’s working two or three jobs every night and you don’t get a chance to see them, it’s every kid’s dream to take care of their mom,” Ebron said.

During the first two days of training camp, Ebron has looked like he’s still adjusting to the NFL with a few ugly drops. But the Lions expect those to go away as he gets comfortable in the system. During the offseason program, Ebron joked about the playbook causing him headaches, but said those have gone away.

“Now that I’ve got an understanding of the playbook, now it’s about running routes, catching the ball and precision,” Ebron said.

Mastering the playbook is going to be a difficult task for Ebron because of all the Lions require from their tight ends. He’ll have to learn blocking schemes from the line and the backfield, routes as a receiver and tight end, and more.

“He’s got to learn and adjust, and there’s a lot of things going through his mind right now,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “You’re going to see that he’ll just continue to improve and get a little bit better because he does have an unusual skill set.”

Even with a couple lackluster days of camp, Ebron has displayed the skill set that impressed the Lions enough to draft him 10th overall this year. He runs routes well and is always looking upfield after the catch.

Jackson watched her son intently during the first two days, and said she can’t wait to see what he can do once the season starts.

“I am truly excited,” she said. “It’s just so much that people have not seen yet of what this boy can do.”

Jackson also keeps tabs on any news about her son, including anything on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, for which she said some have called her the “social media police.”

“I have to police it just to be sure,” she said. “Kids sometimes say things without thinking, and people take it out of context.”

When Ebron was drafted, Jackson said he got his charisma from his father, but the confidence is clearly from his mother. A native of New Jersey, Jackson said she’s already told her family and friends to expect a loss when the Lions play the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football” in Week 1.

“All of my Giants’ fans family is going to sit here in Detroit watching the Giants get beat up,” she said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com
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During the offseason, Eric Ebron joked the playbook gave him headaches, but says those are gone. / Daniel Mears / Detroit News