August 16, 2014 at 4:15 am

Lions rookie TE Eric Ebron showing big-play potential

Oakland, Calif. — First-round pick Eric Ebron flashed his big-play potential in the Lions’ 27-26 exhibition loss to the Raiders Friday night at the O.co Coliseum.

The rookie tight end had two receptions, one for 23 yards and another for 13 yards, but he also showed he still has work to do.

On the 23-yard reception, Matthew Stafford threw a beautiful pass over a defensive back, but Ebron had to adjust to catch it on his way to the ground. Had he spotted the ball earlier and caught it in stride, it could’ve been a touchdown.

“I gave him some grief about that,” Stafford said, laughing. “I told him maybe one day. He’s getting there. This is a complex offense for tight ends. They move and line up in a lot of different areas, but when he had his opportunities tonight, he made some plays. So I was happy to see that.”

Ebron, who earned the start Friday, agreed with Stafford’s assessment of the play.

“I should have (scored),” he said.

The play moved the Lions to the Oakland 21, helping set up a touchdown five plays later. And even though it wasn’t perfect, Ebron’s play did show that he and Stafford were on the same page.

Before the first offensive series, Stafford told Ebron that safety Charles Woodson regularly takes risks that can leave the middle of the field vulnerable, and that was exactly what happened on the long connection.

“(Woodson) came down in the middle of the field on that looking to hunt up Reggie Bush underneath,” Stafford said. “In that look, Ebron’s probably not going to get the ball 95 percent of the time, but the 5 percent the guy comes down out of the middle of the field. He did a great job of staying alive, and I was able to shoot one on his back shoulder.”

Now Ebron just has to develop better chemistry with Stafford to ensure he maximizes those big plays.

“It takes time,” he said. “This is my first year. I’m not really in tune with Stafford yet. (It’s the) preseason; that’s what we’re here for.”

Ebron second catch — he had just two targets — was from Dan Orlovsky in the third quarter, and he made a nice catch along the sideline for a first down.

That play actually helped make up for a blunder two plays before. On a punt return, Ebron was called for an illegal block in the back. He was in good position, but misread the gunner’s path, which led to the penalty.

After having just one catch for 2 yards in last week’s exhibition opener, Ebron showed that he’s already making strides and should be a valuable piece in the Lions’ offense this season.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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Tight end Eric Ebron of the Detroit Lions makes a catch against safety Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders Friday. / Ezra Shaw / Getty Images