Jason Fox is looking to win a starting spot after struggling to stay healthy his first two seasons

Posted May 5, 2013

With the departure of veterans along the offensive line, Jason Fox has a great opportunity to be a strong contender for a starting role

As a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Miami University, offensive tackle Jason Fox came to Detroit with the same goals that any young player entering the league would have: to be a strong competitor for a starting job.

But things didn't work out that way.

Jason FoxT Jason Fox

During training camp his rookie season, a knee injury that resulted in surgery sidelined him for the duration of the year.

In 2011, it was a broken foot.

In short, injuries plagued his first two seasons, and he saw action in just five games over that span.

The situation wasn't something he'd planned for, obviously, but he has benefited to some degree -- at least from a mental standpoint -- in his time off the field.

"I've grown up a lot and I've learned a lot, especially from guys like Jeff (Backus) and Gos (Cherilus) and even guys that don't play tackle, like Dom (Raiola)," Fox said.

"Just being around the NFL, being around vets that have been in this league for a long time, that taught me so much on how to be a pro, how to study, how to prepare for games.

"You don't come in hoping to get injured, but you have to make the most of it; you have to put the time in. I'm really thankful to have had those older guys to learn from and now I have a great opportunity in front of me."

Entering his fourth season, it's not the same meeting room Fox has been accustomed to over the last three years.

Backus, who was the Lions' starting left tackle for 12 seasons, retired. Cherilus, who was the team's starting right tackle, was picked up by Indianapolis in free agency. Right guard Stephen Peterman was released.

The only two starters from last season that remain are center Dominic Raiola and left guard Rob Sims.

For a unit that depends so much on the the consistency and familiarity of knowing who's lined up next to you, those are some big changes to deal with.

"The guys that left, they'll be greatly missed, they were all good guys," said Fox. "But we still have a bunch of good guys in that room. A lot of them are young, and, yes, we are inexperienced, but we still have a lot of talented players and I think we're going to be a good, athletic offensive line."

Transitioning to one of the youngest offensive fronts will certainly bring it's challenges, but it also means more opportunities for the younger players, like Fox, to contribute.

That makes this as good a time as any to be back in the mix for a starting spot.  

"This is the first offseason in a long time that I'm worried about being a better football player instead of worrying about getting healthy ... it's an exciting feeling," Fox said.

"I've dealt with some stuff, but the bottom line is that I have a great opportunity, and we have a great opportunity as an organization this year, so all we can do is look to the future and make the most of it."