Lions tight end Fauria 'itching' to return

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Joseph Fauria's expectations for this fall are simple: Help the Lions, be on the field as much as possible and do some dances.

The third-year tight end took a step in the right direction Wednesday when he returned to minicamp. Fauria sat most of the 10 organized team activities the previous three weeks and only did individual drills Wednesday, but he said it was good to "knock some of the rust off."

"I'm itching," he said. "It's been a long time since I've played football, so I'm really itching for it right now."

With Fauria practicing and defensive end Corey Wootton returning, the Lions only had four players out on Wednesday. Running back Joique Bell (knee/Achilles) and offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle (knee) and Cornelius Lucas (undisclosed) were spectators, and defensive end Jason Jones was the only absence.

Fauria's second season in the NFL didn't quite measure up to his impressive rookie campaign, when he scored seven touchdowns. He missed Weeks 4 through 10 after suffering an ankle injury outside of practice, and after he playing sparingly in Weeks 11 through 13, he aggravated the ankle again in Week 14 and missed the rest of the season.

"It's something you have to overcome," he said. "Football's frustrating. Everyone has injuries. Everyone has trials and tribulations. It's how you answer them and how you come back, and I'm expecting myself to come back strong."

Entering Year 3, Fauria faces even tougher competition to contribute than last year. In addition to Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew being the top two tight ends, Jordan Thompson has more experience after being on the practice squad last year. The Lions also signed David Ausberry last week, who's entering his fifth year in the NFL, and undrafted rookie Casey Pierce is battling for a roster spot, too.

How the tight end depth chart shakes out remains to be seen, but Fauria expects to be healthy for training camp after spending more time rehabbing in California.

"You'll see me out there for sure," he said.