LIONS INSIDER

Teryl Austin believes DT Nick Fairley has turned a corner

Posted Feb 17, 2015

Is defensive tackle Nick Fairley ready to work toward his full potential? Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin thinks so.

Where Nick Fairley plays football in 2015 is uncertain.

Fairley, the Detroit Lions’ 2011 first-round draft pick, is an unrestricted free agent after the Lions declined to pick up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract last May.

The move was made as a way to motivate Fairley to reach his full potential in 2014. After struggling with his weight again in August, and being demoted by head coach Jim Caldwell, Fairley finally got serious. He hired a personal chef and was having his most consistent and productive season until a knee injury in Week 8 sidelined him for the rest of the year.

He told reporters after the season that he’d like to return to Detroit, but didn’t know what free agency would hold for him.

After being acquitted of DUI charges last week in Alabama, he told AL.com that he was ready to get back to Houston to start training and rehabbing so “all these teams to come look at me.”

Nick FairleyDT Nick Fairley (Photo: Gavin Smith/Detroit Lions)

It's uncertain if Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is interested in re-signing Fairley. Mayhew has expressed frustration in the past with constant weight issues that prevented Fairley from reaching his full potential.

The question the Lions have to ask themselves is if they think Fairley has turned the corner. Is he ready to be the defensive tackle he can be?

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin spent just one season with Fairley, but was impressed with the way Fairley took control of his situation after the demotion in August and even more impressed with how he kept the weight off and stayed in shape during his rehab.

“As a player you could say, 'I'm going to play hard or I'm going to get in shape' and sometimes when things don't go well you go right back into your old habits,” Austin told detroitlions.com.

“He got injured and he didn't. He kept himself in good shape. He kept his weight down, he worked really hard and if we were fortunate enough to win at Dallas he would have been ready to play a little bit in the next game and so that shows me that he's turned the corner.”

Is that enough for Mayhew, however? We’ll find out in the coming weeks if he believes Fairley has turned a corner.

But as for Austin, he thinks he has.

“I mean I really like Nick and I like Nick as a player,” Austin said. “I think he's a really good player. But I think he did, I think he turned a corner.”