Nick Fairley grades out at incomplete for rookie season
If you were grading Nick Fairley’s rookie season it would have to be an incomplete. He played in just 10 games and was never totally healthy.
The first-round pick out of Auburn (13th overall) broke his foot early in training camp and never could put it totally behind him.
We saw flashes of what he could be with a few big plays. In the regular season game at New Orleans he was a man possessed. It’s where he notched his only sack of the season. Unfortunately for him he re-injured his foot in the first quarter and missed the rest of that game.
It was especially tough for a rookie to miss training camp since there had been no off-season workouts due to the NFL lockout.
“Nick missed all of training camp and then it was just sore throughout the season. I have had a lot of experience with guys that have had broken feet, screws put in, and things like that. They have had the same experience. It probably won’t be for a few months now in the offseason of rest before that thing will be in his rearview mirror,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said.
“But I think we also saw enough when he was healthy that we know we have a really good player there and a guy that can affect the game and make plays for us. I think it was good that way. I think we feel very strongly about him physically. I think it is very difficult not having players on the field.’’
When he was drafted he was not pegged as an immediate starter since the Lions had Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams. The plan was to rotate Fairley, Sammie Hill and Andre Fluellen in and out of the tackle position.
For that Dec. 4 game at the Saints, Suh was serving the first of a two-game suspension. Fairley’s foot was doing better but it was Sammie Hill who earned the start.
Hill, who often gets overlooked, had a good strong season including a big game in the Jan. 1 loss at Green Bay.
First-round picks are expected to jump in and contribute right away. It just didn’t happen that way for Fairley. If he’s healthy he could be a huge boost to the defensive line which didn’t live up to the hype this year.
(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at oplions.blogspot.com. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword "Lions" to 22700. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.)