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We're not far into OTAs and voluntary workouts, but so far the word on Nick Fairley is positive. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch told MLive's Anwar Richardson that the young defensive tackle from Auburn is "in good shape."
Fairley struggled with a foot injury in 2011, so being at the workouts, running and staying around the team is a very positive sign. Add to it Lions.com reporter Tim Twentyman's opinion that Fairley was the most impressive player at OTAs today.
Very, very encouraging.
Certainly Fairley has some hurdles before he really can take off, but it's possible he can have a very good season.
Of course, he needs to show better judgment off the field. As I have said numerous times about the Lions' players, you cannot have a positive impact on the field if you aren't actually on the field.
Secondly, he needs to stay healthy and consistent. Again, if you're hurt, you can't have an impact of any sort. Consistency is part of the same thing—if they can't trust you to do your job when they ask you to, they won't use you.
Finally—and really this is the biggest hurdle—he needs to find a way to climb over the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill. Hill shouldn't be too big a challenge, and Suh just isn't going to happen—the key might be getting past Williams.
Last season was an off year for Williams as his tackles dove from 32 in 2010 to just 19 in 2011. He had the same amount of sacks (two) but no passes defensed (he'd had four each of the previous three years) and didn't force a fumble for the first time in four years.
If Fairley plays as well as he looks, Williams' spot could be ripe for the plucking.
I've long said a pairing of Suh and Fairley would be scary. We might just see how scary this fall.