NEWS

Jason Fox ready to take the next step in development with injury woes behind him

Posted Jan 2, 2013

Whether it was a lingering knee issue as a rookie left over from Jason Fox's college days at Miami, or a broken foot that ended last season, he had to prove to both Detroit Lions' coaches and management that he could stay healthy.

The Lions snapped the football 1,160 times on offense this season. Reserve tackle Jason Fox wasn't on the field for any of them.

In fact, Fox was only active for one game this season, when Jeff Backus' iron-man streak ended on Thanksgiving Day vs. Houston because of a hamstring injury. In that game, Fox played the reserve tackle role and was on the field for six plays on special teams.

It's hard to imagine a player who played a grand total of six plays on special teams this season taking a giant leap forward in his development, but strangely, Fox did.

A former fourth-round pick of the Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft, Fox's professional career has been plagued by injuries from the start.

Whether it was a lingering knee issue as a rookie left over from his college days at Miami, or a broken foot that ended last season, he had to prove to both coaches and management that he could stay healthy.

"That's been his No. 1 thing his whole career is being able to have extended periods of being healthy," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Fox.

"I think he's made a lot of strides that way obviously because he's still been on the field for us and seems to have put those things in the past. He's always been a smart player. He's a little bit more physically developed. (I) think he's a good, young player. He's got a bright future ahead of him."

The key part there was having the injuries "in his past."

There's never been a doubt that Fox has talent. When Backus missed time with a thumb injury during training camp, Fox filled and played well. He's a big tackle (6-6, 315) and a good athlete. He moves well and has good feet.

With the injuries now behind him, Fox thinks he's ready to compete for a starting job.

He might get that chance, too, with starting right tackle Gosder Cherilus being an unrestricted free agent and Backus, who's entering the final year of his two-year extension, turning 36 in September.

Fox is a restricted free agent this offseason, but now that he's proven he can stay healthy, it's likely the Detroit Lions extend a tender offer to him.

"Absolutely that's the goal," Fox said of competing for a starting spot next season.

"That's something that every athlete works for and I'm no different. I'm a very competitive guy, no matter what it is.

"I've had some injury struggles in the past to stay healthy but that's behind me know and this offseason I'm looking forward to becoming bigger, faster and stronger and a better football player."

For the first offseason as a Lion, Jason Fox won't be rehabbing or resting an injuring over the next few months. He said Monday that injuries limited him the past two offseasons from taking the next step as a player.

"If you have a knee issue you're worried about getting healthy instead of getting your leg as strong as possible," Fox said.

"But like I said, that stuff is in the past and we're moving forward. This offseason is just (about) becoming the best player that I can be."

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