Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron said Thursday that the mental side of his rookie season has turned him into a "zombie."
Ebron said the mental aspect of being a rookie has been a much more difficult obstacle than the physical aspect.
"You start to get zombified sooner or later," Ebron said. "I don't even know if zombified is a word, but you just turn into a zombie mentally. But you're there physically. Oh, your body's going to work, but your brain just stops."
While Ebron said he thought he had made it past the proverbial rookie wall during training camp in August, he's changed his mind through the season's first four weeks, saying that with the four preseason games taken into account he's already close to the equivalent of the end of a college season.
"If [the rookie wall] is going to come, it's going to come," Ebron said. "If I hit it, I hit it, but I'm going to go through headfirst, so we'll see what happens after I hit it. If I die, I die. If I come out alive, I come out alive."
The Lions selected Ebron with the No. 10 pick in this year's NFL draft out of North Carolina.
The 21-year-old has just six receptions for 72 yards this season but caught his first touchdown pass in the Lions' 24-17 win at the New York Jets last Sunday. He had a bigger role against the Jets due to the ankle injury sustained by no. 2 tight end Joseph Fauria last week. It was somewhat of a homecoming for Ebron, who's from Newark, New Jersey.
Ebron's continued improvement could be a boost to a Lions offense that hasn't been as productive as some thought it would be before the season. The team enters Week 5 12th in the NFL in total yards per game and 22nd in points per game, down from sixth and 13th, respectively, last season.
The Lions have instead relied on their defense, tied for first in the NFL in total yards per game allowed, to a 3-1 record through the first four games.
- Ben Estes