Allen Park — The first two games, the Lions offense has been somewhat uneven, struggling to establish balance with the run and pass.
While Calvin Johnson had two catches in the opener and 10 in Week 2, tight end Eric Ebron’s production has been steady — four catches on five targets in Week 1 and five catches on 10 targets in Week 2.
Ebron’s rookie year was a struggle — 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown in 13 games.
But in two games this year, he has nine receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s caught the ball pretty well and made some plays for us,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “His arrow of improvement is heading in the right direction.”
While Ebron, at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, has made some strides with holding on to the ball, he realizes he still has plenty to do before he reaches his goals and justifies his high draft pick.
“Not yet,” he said of his game. “I’m not there; I’m still working on it.”
Expectations for Ebron were high last season after he was drafted 10th overall. But because of injuries and having to learn his various roles in the offense, he took longer to absorb all the information.
With an offseason under his belt, Ebron has been able to make the adjustment quickly. And wth Brandon Pettigrew, the primary blocking tight end, out, Ebron has added some more to his plate, having to stay in on protection more. It’s proving to be a little tougher because Pettigrew has about 30 pounds on Ebron.
“I have to be at least half the man he is at blocking,” Ebron said. “There is literally no other tight end in the league that blocks as great as Pettigrew.”
Some of Ebron’s responsibility this week might include staying in pass protection to help with Broncos linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware rushing off the edge, but he’s prepared.
While many fans and analysts focus on whether Ebron has lived up to expectations, Caldwell is focused on keeping him on the right track in terms of his development.
“There are no guarantees,” Caldwell said. “A guy in his first year, often times it’s difficult to measure because the game is a much different game than the college game. “There are a few guys that pop out and do fairly well their first year.
“But for the most part, the great majority of them, it’s an evolution, year by year. And typically, by their third year or so ... (they) get it done.”