Fairley's play starting to show he was worth the No. 13-overall pick

Posted Nov 20, 2012

It hasn't been a smooth transition for Fairley from first-round pick to sudden contributor.

The Lions have made receiver Titus Young inactive for Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game vs. Houston for behavior detrimental to the team.

After talking about Young's discipline problems on Monday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz praised the recent play of defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who the Lions took No. 13 overall in the 2011 draft.

Fairley, making his fourth-career start for the injured Corey Williams (knee) on Sunday, recorded seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

"Oh, I don't think there's any doubt it was his best game," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Fairley. "It's probably the best complete game that he played and even going back when we played New Orleans on that Sunday night he played a quarter and had a sack, a couple tackles for loss, I think four tackles and he was only in one quarter of play.

"Corey means a lot to our defense and has played at a really high level. We needed somebody to step up and Nick has done that."

It hasn't been a smooth transition for Fairley from first-round pick to sudden contributor. He was limited by a broken foot for much of his rookie year and had a tumultuous offseason this year with two separate arrests - one for marijuana possession and one DUI.

But where Young hasn't been able to put some of his issues in his past, Fairley seemingly has.

"He's maturing as a player, he's maturing as person and he's been a guy that the defense can count on being in the right spot," Schwartz said. "I mean, this was probably his most assignment-sound game that he's ever played and it showed in the stat sheet and it showed in the play."

In four starts this season (at Philadelphia, at Chicago, at Minnesota and vs. Green Bay), Fairley has 3.5 of his 4.5 sacks. All five of his credited tackles for loss on rushing plays have occurred over his four starts.

Overall during that span, he has generated 16 tackles (11 solo), 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one pass defense.

"Nick is a great example to younger players, especially going through adversity," said Lions veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. "Nick has improved, especially as of late. A lot of times with younger players, it's all about confidence and having some success and being able to build upon that.

"Everyone feels like he had his best game as a Lion (on Sunday) so I expect him to play well and even play better. We're just hitting the tip of the iceberg with Nick."

Fairley is fast becoming a force for the Lions and his future is looking bright.

"It's just growing up," said Vanden Bosch.