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Indianapolis — The Patriots have relied on their tight ends more than most teams in recent years, particularly since they drafted Rob Gronkowski in 2010.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn, who spent the past 16 years with New England, hopes the tight end is a featured component of the offense in Detroit, too. But he thinks Eric Ebron still has to improve and make good on his potential.

The 10th overall pick in 2014, Ebron nearly doubled his rookie production in his second season, finishing 2015 with 47 catches for 537 yards and five touchdowns.

If wide receiver Calvin Johnson retires, the Lions will rely on Ebron even more moving forward.

“Eric’s got a unique skill set,” Quinn said at the NFL combine. “He’s really an explosive player, he’s got really good speed, he was a very productive player in college and I think he did show improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, which is really, really what you want to see from a player.

“One to two is huge, two to three is probably the next year that you’re really looking at, and really, by Year 3, you know what you have. So, I’m really looking forward to seeing Eric in the offseason program, OTAs, training camp to kind of see that progression. It’s a crucial position and we’re going to use the tight end as much as we can.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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