Joseph Fauria celebrates a touchdown in the 2013 season. (Getty Images)
FOXBORO — When Bill Belichick looks across the field Sunday at Lions tight end Joseph Fauria, he won’t exactly be reminded of Fauria’s uncle that played on a pair of Super Bowl-winning teams.
Belichick was asked Friday if he sees any similarities between Joe and Christian, the latter of whom played four of his 13 NFL seasons with the Patriots (2002-05).
“Yeah, I’d say their style of play is quite a bit different,” Belichick said.
Fauria’s most productive season came in his first year, 2002, when he caught seven touchdowns and 27 passes while playing all 16 games. As a matter of fact, Fauria didn’t miss a single game in his Patriots’ career.
“Christian really coming out of Colorado I thought was a little bit undersized, but a legitimate three-down tight end,” Belichick said. “Even though he was a little undersized, he had real good playing strength, he had good hand strength, he could lock on to guys. He didn’t get tossed around like some guys his size did. I thought he played bigger than maybe his weight size would indicate. He was a good receiving tight end. Not elite, but good. He was really an every-down player. When he was in his prime, he didn’t really have to come off the field. I don’t think you would have to take him off the field, you would do it situationally, but I don’t think you have to do it.”
In his rookie season last year, Joe Fauria matched Christian’s 2002 season of seven touchdowns but has none so far this season and has played in just four of Detroit’s first 10 games.
“His nephew really hasn’t had that kind of opportunity,” Belichick said. “They have [Brandon] Pettigrew and now they have [Eric] Ebron. They have a pretty good stable of tight ends there. He’s one of them.
“But they have pretty good depth at that position. Most of his opportunities have come more in the passing game. But I would say that just watching him on film, his blocking has improved. We played them last year in the preseason and he had a couple touchdowns against us. He killed us there. But I’d say he’s definitely improved as an overall player and I’d say his blocking has improved quite a bit from last year.”
Of course, the one area both have in common is touchdown celebrations. The Patriots got to see Joseph’s up close and personal during a 2013 preseason game in Detroit, won handily by the Lions.
“There you go,” Belichick said with a smile.