Friendly fire is always one of the most gruesome realities of playing football, but when it involves a collision of two men that are similarly massive, it gets that much worse.
When Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley collided on a play during Sunday’s game in London, it was as if a pair of freight trains had mashed together at full speed and derailed. Both were trying to get to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, and neither saw each other on the way there.
Fairley took the worst of the hit, wrenching his knee the wrong way. It was plenty of weight going the opposite way than it should for the defensive tackle. As he was helped off, there was a definite concern that the injury could perhaps be season threatening.
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Later Sunday night, though, Peter King reported on Football Night In America that Fariely was scheduled for an MRI in Michigan on Monday, and the Detroit Lions were optimistic that the injury wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it appeared. Still, nobody knows.
Considering what’s gone on with regard to injuries lately, the Lions might not be able to sustain another body blow from losing Fairley. Offensively, they’re already without a host of difference makers, and defensively, the suspension of Fairley’s back up C.J. Mosley couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Rookie Caraun Reid stepped in for Fairley in the second half and played admirably well, but despite that, he’s still a rookie. Darryl Tapp did as well, but is better as a rush end. Jason Jones has experience inside, but he’s rushed the passer so well Detroit probably doesn’t want to have to move him around. Suddently, depth could become a problem for the line, which has been the heartbeat of the Lions’ defensive turnaround this season.
The Lions need—not just want—Fairley to remain healthy. Statistically, his numbers don’t jump off the page, but in the middle of a line, he’s as solid of a run stuffer as a team can get. The opposition has struggled pounding the ball down Detroit’s throat for a few years, and that’s because the massive frame of Fairley takes up so much space in the middle that rushes are often swallowed up prematurely.
The opposition has struggled pounding the ball down Detroit’s throat for a few years, and that’s because the massive frame of Fairley takes up so much space in the middle that rushes are swallowed up prematurely.
A bye week should help ease Detroit’s multitude of other injury problems, but they should hope it also provides Fairley an extra week to rest his now ailing knee most. Without him in the fold on the defensive line in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see if the group can continue to dominate as they have for the first half of the year.
Many Lions are walking wounded, but quietly, the most vital at this point in time to the entire cause could be Fairley.