LIONS INSIDER

COORDINATOR CUT-UP: Fairley earned Austin's trust back with better preparation

Posted Sep 5, 2014

The Lions need Nick Fairley to show up each and every week if this defense is going to play at the level defensive coordinator Teryl Austin thinks it can.

Nick Fairley went through a very public demotion during the preseason.

He has since regained his starting spot for Monday night’s opener against the Giants. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Fairley gained his trust back by changing the way he prepared, which in turned allowed the fourth-year defensive tackle to start playing better.

Nick FairleyDT Nick Fairley (Photo: Gavin Smith)

“Well, what Nick has done is basically, he’s worked harder, he’s practice harder, he’s doing all the things, and so, consequently, he’s playing better,” Austin said. “That’s what’s earned our trust is that he’s playing better.

“I think it all goes back to how he prepares. When he prepares well, he plays well. As long as he continues to do that, he’ll be our starter. And that goes for any position, not just Nick Fairley. You have to prepare well to play well. If you don’t prepare correctly or prepare well, then I’m sure somebody will be playing better than you and it’ll show up over time.”

The Lions need Fairley to show up each and every week if this defense is going to play at the level Austin thinks it can. Fairley is a dominant defensive tackle when he wants to be. Even Ndamukong Suh admitted this offseason that Fairley could be better than him if he put the effort in. Fairley finished second on the team with six sacks from his interior spot last year.

“Nick is really disruptive and he’s explosive and he’s got a tremendous amount of talent,” Austin said. “If he’s playing well inside, then that makes it harder for teams just to double or get up on our linebackers and do those things. The better he plays, as we’ve said before, the better our defense will be. We’re anticipating him playing well.”

Fairley is down from 320 pounds to his optimal weight between 305 and 310 pounds since hiring a personal chef. He’s looked and played better.

Both the Lions and Fairley have much to gain this season from him playing well.

Austin also touched on a couple other topics in his weekly interview with the media:

On how happy he is with the depth of his cornerbacks: “I’m fine. The thing that everybody has made a deal about our secondary and what they can’t do. When you look at the secondary, they’re like the offensive line, they have to play well together.

"It doesn’t matter if you have a superstar or two superstars back there. If they don’t play well together, if they don’t communicate, they’re not going to play well. So, if our guys play well, communicate, know what each other’s doing, take care of their business and take care of their jobs, they’ll play well. I don’t worry about it. I don’t worry about the depth. I have complete confidence in those guys.”

On the emergence of LB Tahir Whitehead: “When you think about Tahir, he showed up a little bit in the spring. You can see he’s got a great burst, he can really run and is a strong guy and moves well. So we were wondering he can put all of that together in the new scheme and he flashed for us in the spring. As we got into camp, he played really well and that’s the end of story. He just performed well and we anticipate him doing the same once the season opens.”

On if he’s seen the Giants’ running game perform better with RB Rashad Jennings and RB Andre Williams: “Yes, absolutely. I think that’s one thing that when you look at their film. I know they’re throwing the ball as they’re getting used to the timing of the new offense that they’re putting in, but really the emphasis when you watch is on how effectively they’re running the ball.

"They’re doing a great job, they’re knocking people off. They have a fullback that’ll knock you flat on your back in (Henry) Hynoski. They do a great job upfront in terms of how they’re taught and blocking guys. There’s a renewed emphasis and they’ve done a good job in the preseason of running the ball. I would think that’s what they’re going to do moving forward.”