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With tight end Joseph Fauria's ankle injury and receiver Calvin Johnson missing two days of practice this week, also because of an injured ankle, the Lions won't be at full strength in their passing game.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has as many interceptions (three) as touchdowns this season and the passing game isn't living up to initial expectations, though it ranks sixth in the league in yardage.

But help could be on the way for Sunday's matchup at the Jets.

Third-year receiver Ryan Broyles, showing sure hands and third-down dependability in the preseason, was one of the biggest surprises entering the season. Although Broyles wasn't activated for any of the first three games this season, he is active this week and could be one of the offensive options this week, with Fauria out.

"He's obviously had a very fine preseason, a guy that's come through an inordinate number of injuries, showed that he has perseverance, dedication and discipline," coach Jim Caldwell said Friday. "All the things you love in terms of those intangibles and at some point in time I just tell him, 'Hey you know you know what? We don't know when it's going to happen.'

"But at some point in time he's going to be able to help us, I think. He's one of those guys that's not deterred, he is accustomed to tough situations, and he's accustomed to beating the odds. He's one that does not need a lot of cheering up because he's a pretty determined individual."

Broyles missed parts of his first two pro seasons because of season-ending knee injuries. He's played in 16 games in his first two years and had his best game during his rookie season, with six catches for 126 yards against the Texans.

Injuries, though, ended both seasons for Broyles, who is healthy now, awaiting a chance to contribute this year.

The Lions already have seen season-ending injuries to linebacker Stephen Tulloch, cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson, and offensive tackle Corey Hilliard.

"In this game, guys go down, so you have to be mentally ready. Different games call for different guys to be up, so you never know when your turn is going to come up," Broyles said. "There have been guys injured and guys pulled up because they need to fill a spot. You definitely have to go out there and prepare yourself every week like you're a starter.

"If you're not starting on the weekend, you're helping the guys and giving them a good look so they can prepare themselves to win. So, I'm every bit a part of this team — if I'm playing or not — throughout the week."

Fauria's injury leaves just two tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and rookie Eric Ebron, on the 53-man roster. Caldwell said Ebron could absorb most of Fauria's reps as a receiver, but there could be other plans in the works, as well.

"Oftentimes, you may consider bringing another tight end up or finding another guy here or there if you need it," Caldwell said. "The other options are to utilize some other personnel groupings that do not require necessarily you use a tight end as much. The other options are to put a lineman or someone in that particular position to sort of take on some of the duties that ordinarily be handled by a tight end."

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard

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