Detroit Lions Roster Bubble: Defensive Tackle

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Fairley, 1st round pick out of Auburn in 2011
2014 stats:  8 Games, 14 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 FF
Career Stats:  46 Games, 98 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 1 safety, 4 FF

The sometimes forgotten man on the Detroit Lions defensive front, Nick Fairley has seen his share of dominance since joining the team in 2011.  The sole ‘hit’ from that draft class for the team, Fairley finds himself on the Detroit Lions roster bubble due to health and consistency issues.  Those two things are actually only scratching the surface of his troubled time in Detroit, but they’re the most prevalent and concerning as we enter free agency.

Spending much of his rookie campaign injured, Fairley would see his first serious action against the New Orleans Saints and one of the top offensive guards in the league, Carl Nicks.  It wasn’t a good match up for the rookie, but he completely dominated one of the best players at his position before again succumbing to injury.  It was a preview of what was to come with Fairley, who has never made it through a whole season healthy since being drafted.

Fairley is an impact player when healthy and motivated, but can the team truly count on him to be both at the same time?  Fairley had off field issues in 2012 that thankfully haven’t resurfaced, but his weight issues that were present at his drafting crept up in every season since.  With Suh likely to command a huge contract, it seems a foregone conclusion that Fairley will not be retained, but is it really that cut and dry?

Chances of returning?

Slim.  Nick Fairley never seemed to gel with the coaching staff, who seemed to be constantly babysitting him.  Despite showing flashes of motivation early in camp, losing his off-season weight and showing a renewed drive to improving, much of this was brought on by the very real threat of losing his starting position or being traded and the image of being coddled was very apparent.  Fairley has barely been mentioned by the team since the off-season started, which isn’t a good sign for his prospects here.

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