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Eric Ebron is gaining comfort and a bigger role

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Eric Ebron is still figuring everything out.

Yes, his touchdown reception Sunday against the New York Jets was a helpful benchmark. Yes, he has made marked progress since the beginning of training camp, when he admittedly felt a little bit lost in the playbook.

And yes, Ebron is going to be looked at to do more now since Joseph Fauria is out for an undetermined amount of time after spraining his ankle.

But, no, this doesn’t mean Ebron is completely there yet. The process, the Detroit Lions' rookie first-round pick from North Carolina realized, is a long one.

"I’m a long ways away from being great and hopefully, that’s everyone’s goal, we all try to come here to do stuff great," Ebron said. "To do some things that haven’t been done before. But it takes time."

It is time, though, that Ebron is about to have more of. In his first four games, Ebron has six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. He has been targeted 12 times. He has one drop.

Those numbers could soon skyrocket.

With Fauria’s absence, Calvin Johnson hobbled and injuries to Lions running backs Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, it is highly possible Ebron may see even more snaps than he did a week ago. So the methodical pace of his development as he was becoming acclimated into the offense -- that’s likely over now.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said that because of Fauria’s injury, Ebron could see more time, and it already happened last Sunday. Though the Ebron's role will likely be different than Fauria's -- Fauria is a better blocker and has extremely good hands, while Ebron is a mismatch for linebackers and safeties with his athleticism -- the progression has started to come.

"We see that foundation of it is being built," Caldwell said. "We can see the reaction to different situations that he’s confronted with on the practice field and during the course of the games that we think he’s making good progress."

One thing that is definite is the expectations for the tight end are about to grow.

"You’re going to have to learn to do more," Ebron said. "I’m learning still every position, but still, you’ve got to keep learning more. More and more, you know, depth, accuracy of routes, definition of routes.

"You’re learning more and more. You learn something new every day."

What he learned Sunday? The touchdown he scored didn’t necessarily bring more confidence, but it did give him some more comfort.

On the play, he knew before the snap he would have a shot at scoring. It was pretty obvious before the snap, too, as no one lined up over Ebron and he was going to be heading to the end zone, where he would face single coverage.

He did. He scored.

"You just get a little bit more comfortable. Not too comfortable. But you just get a little bit more comfortable," Ebron said. "I started developing more confidence the more and more you get your plays down. That’s really where your confidence comes from, because then you know what you can do.

"You know what to do and then, once you know what to do, you can do the things which got you here."

Slowly, Eric Ebron is managing to do that.