Fuehne, Charles pushing Wick in Lions’ tight end battle

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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The Lions' Adam Fuehne pulls down a reception between Steelers defenders Jordan Dangerfield and Shamarko Thomas.

Latrobe, Pa. – Cole Wick is a player who has drawn an inordinate amount of attention for an undrafted tight end out of the University Incarnate Word. But his work with the first-team offense, while Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron and Tim Wright are sidelined with injuries, validate the interest in the Detroit Lions’ rookie.

Wick has done little to disappoint. He hauled in a touchdown during the team’s mock game at Ford Field last weekend, registered another score during a full-team scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top defensive unit in Tuesday’s joint practice, and made an impressive one-handed catch running a route across the middle of the field during Wednesday’s session.

But Wick isn’t the only young tight end on the roster, and the Lions don’t intend to award him a roster spot without seeing what Adam Fuehne and Orson Charles bring to the table. During Wednesday’s practice, both players received extended reps with the first-team offense and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

At 6-foot-7, 264 pound, Fuehne stands out from the crowd. He recorded a handful of receptions Wednesday, but none more impressive than the lengthy touchdown grab down the seam, maintaining possession through a jarring hit near the goal line.

“Fuehne’s a big target, a tall guy that certainly can move and he caught the ball decently,” coach Jim Caldwell said.

Orson Charles

Charles didn’t have any scoring plays, but built upon his eye-opening performance in the mock game, offering Detroit’s quarterbacks an option capable of getting separation in the short and intermediate areas of the field.

Caldwell’s familiarity with Charles goes back to when the tight end was playing wide receiver at Henry B. Plant high school in Tampa Bay.

“Eric Dungy was on the team,” Caldwell said. “I used to fly down there once in a while on Friday nights with Tony (Dungy) to watch him play, and it just so happened that (Charles) was one of his teammates.

“I’ve seen kind of an evolution with him, and that’s why he’s a pretty good route runner,” Caldwell continued. “He’s accustomed to it. Not only that, he’s versatile. He can do things out of the backfield and at the line of scrimmage.”

Fuehne and Charles will get a continued opportunity to eat into Wick’s early lead for a roster spot during Friday’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lions' Caldwell won't commit to future joint practices

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