Notebook: Nick Fairley avoiding surgery, offensive playmakers need to step up

Posted Dec 19, 2012

Nick Fairley was placed on injured-reserve Wednesday because of his inability to play and possibility of making his injury worse. Also, Lions need more production from offensive players.

If the Lions have any chance of beating a 12-2 Atlanta team Saturday at Ford Field, they simply have to get more production from players like Tony Scheffler, Kris Durham, Mike Thomas, Stefan Logan and Brian Robiskie.

The team has lost receivers Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles to season-ending injuries, and tight end Brandon Pettigrew hasn't practiced or played since injuring an ankle in Green Bay Dec. 9. They haven't had running back Jahvid Best at all this year.

That's a lot of pieces of the offensive puzzle missing, but also opens up a lot of opportunities for other players to make a name for themselves.

"With some of our injuries and things like that a couple teams have taken the approach of trying to challenge (us)," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

"It's been impressive that Calvin's been able to have the production that he has when he's been such a marked man, but we need guys to step up and make plays on offense.

"Not everybody has to be Calvin, but we need to get contributions from a lot of different guys."

Against the Cardinals, Logan made a first down catch and had another in the red zone. Kevin Smith had a 13-yard screen for a first down. But that was about it as far as production from the other guys goes.

Johnson said earlier this season that he expects one of his fellow receivers to have 100 yards every week opposite the coverage and attention he receives. Amazingly, the Lions have had just two other 100-yard receiving performances outside of the 10 Johnson has (Titus Young 100, Ryan Broyles 126).

Calvin Johnson had 10 catches for 121 yards in the loss to the Cardinals last week. Eight other receivers combined for 14 catches and 125 yards.

"We didn't get enough contributions from the other guys," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "And I think that we need to get plays out of everybody else on offense whether it's tight ends, other wide receivers, running backs. We need to get first downs.

"We need to make big plays. If we do that, it will compliment Calvin well and, to do that, they're going to have to win some one-on-ones."

Simply put, there are some players that have an opportunity these last two weeks to make a play. If they do, the Lions have a chance in both games. If they don't, it'll be tough to get another win this season.

"You don't get very many opportunities in the NFL," Schwartz said. "They need to take advantage of those opportunities and show that they can be counted on to be able to make a play.

"When we do have some guys that are put on IR and stuff like that it's more urgent for them. You don't get very many opportunities."

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Wednesday that if every other player just makes one play, they'll be fine against the Falcons Saturday night.

"You know, all we need is to have one play from every guy that we didn't have last week," he said. "You know, Calvin's going to have his, but every guy has to have a play that's made. If we can get a big play from each group that is now playing, that'll keep our drives alive and allow us to move the ball and score points."

The injured reserve list is becoming a crowded place for the Lions. The team added second-year defensive tackle Nick Fairley to the list of eight on Wednesday.

Fairley hasn't practiced or played since hurting his shoulder in Green Bay Dec. 9, but isn't currently scheduled for surgery, according to Schwartz.

"Well the decision was that number one, he wasn't going to be able to play," he said. "Number two, it was a situation that he could have potentially made worse and gone from being a short-term thing to being a long-term thing."

Schwartz said the injury just needs to be rested at this point.

"It's a little disappointing to lose him for the last three games, but I think you look back on his season he's shown every reason that we drafted him and he's well on his way to becoming a quality player in the NFL," he said.

Fairley finished the season with 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

With Fairley now joining Corey Williams on IR, that leaves just Ndamukong Suh and Sammie Hill from the original rotation of four defensive tackles that started the season.

"We expect Sammie to step up," Schwartz said. "We brought (Andre) Fluellen back who played a lot of football for us. It's next man up. It's a great opportunity for a guy like Sammie Hill to go out and get more reps than he has maybe since his rookie year."

Hill brings a different dimension to the defensive line as more of a run stopper rather than a pure pass rusher like Fairley. He's recorded 13 tackles and defended two passes.

"I just have to go out there and be productive and do my job," Hill said.  

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (knee) did not practice Wednesday for the LIons.

Receiver Calvin Johnson (knee), running back Mikel Leshoure (calf) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (ankle) were all limited.