Tony Scheffler Released by Lions, Can Joseph Fauria's Role Expand?

Marcus Hill@@MrMarcDiddyCorrespondent IIOctober 23, 2013

Fauria will be important in Detroit's offense.
Fauria will be important in Detroit's offense.Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

After battling injuries, and with the surge of Joseph Fauria, the Detroit Lions released tight end Tony Scheffler Tuesday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press

Scheffler has not touched the field since Oct. 6 after being diagnosed with a concussion against the Green Bay Packers.

There is a definite void left with the release of Scheffler: He and Brandon Pettigrew received a bulk of the targets at tight end with 47 and one touchdown.

Fauria has 13 targets—for five touchdowns.

There is plenty of reason for Fauria to dance now, as his targets and production will increase with the veteran’s release.  

There is no question the rookie tight end can get it done in the red zone—now Fauria must prove he can be a threat on the other 80 yards of the field. Last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Fauria had a career-high four targets.

He only came down with one catch for 15 yards.

Detroit’s offense needs a reliable pass-catcher outside of Calvin Johnson—this is Fauria’s opportunity to confirm he can be an additional target in the Lions’ pass game.      

Coach Jim Schwartz has plenty of faith in Fauria, as reported by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, after Fauria caught three TDs against the Cleveland Browns.

Well, first of all, he’s tall as hell. But there’s a lot of tall guys that aren’t good football players. The thing that separates Joe and has allowed him to make those plays is he’s really, really strong. Has really strong hands. We saw that early on in training camp. He had some plays that he made that there were collisions and he had to leave his feet to make catches and he held it when he landed on the ground and he took a hit. That’s carried over for him. 

Now, Schwartz can expand Fauria’s role in Detroit's offense.

The Dallas Cowboys travel to Ford Field Sunday to battle the Lions. Prior to the Lions' Week 9 bye, Fauria can build some steam for the remainder of the season by shredding Dallas’ secondary.

The Cowboys rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing nearly 394 yards per game—Fauria can certainly leave his mark against Dallas.

Matthew Stafford will have plenty of time to find the dancing tight end downfield, with the D-line of Dallas being decimated with injuries.

“America’s Team” compiled 13 sacks in just three weeks, but has since cooled off and have added just seven to that total since then. 

With Detroit’s O-line doing a great job of keeping Stafford off the turf, he will have ample time to get the ball to his targets.

Detroit will benefit from Fauria having an increased role. Now, the rookie needs to prove that releasing Scheffler was not a mistake.