Lions still believe Ebron will stop the drops

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions tight end Eric Ebron can't pull in a reception in front of Oakland's Nate Allen in the end zone in the first quarter Sunday.

Allen Park — Lions tight end Eric Ebron continues to struggle with drops in his second NFL season, but coach Jim Caldwell said the issue hasn't led to any increased frustration.

"It's just a matter of the fact that we've got to find a way to get him better," Caldwell said Monday. "He's had a couple opportunities that I know he'd certainly like to take advantage of, and I think he will."

Ebron's drop Sunday was among the costliest he's had so far in his career, though the Lions still beat the Raiders 18-13. On the opening drive, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a perfect pass to him on a corner route in the end zone. The ball bounced off Ebron's hands, up toward him and then to the ground.

Safety Nate Allen had decent coverage on the play, but wasn't impeding Ebron's ability to make what should've been an easy 11-yard touchdown catch.

The 10th overall pick in 2014, Ebron has been much better in his second season. He ranks 20th among NFL tight ends with 320 yards and 24th with 27 receptions, both of which are already improvements over his rookie season.

But Ebron's six drops are tied with Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert for the most at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. The site also claims Ebron has an 18.2-percent drop rate, highest among all tight ends, as he's dropped six of his 33 catchable targets.

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Caldwell said the Lions work tirelessly to improve the hands of their receivers. During drills, every receiver has a ball thrown his direction even if he's not the primary target, and the Lions try to get each wide receiver and tight end to catch 100 balls each day.

"He's a diligent worker, so we've just got to keep working and he'll be good," Caldwell said.

Asked if there's a specific problem causing Ebron's drops, Caldwell defended the player, noting his nice 13-yard catch against the Packers last week to convert a third down in the third quarter.

"I don't want to just focus in on him," Caldwell said. "He's made some big plays for us, too. He made a tough catch last week against Green Bay that the ball was a little bit behind him in a third-and-1 situation that was crucial.

"He's made a lot of plays for us, so let's not just home in on a pass that didn't connect. He'll be fine."