Nick Fairley: Detroit Lions Smart to Allow Fairley to Participate in OTAs
Nick Fairley is taking part in OTAs today after his Sunday arrest on DUI charges— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) May 29, 2012
As unorthodox as this may seem, the Lions made a good decision to let Fairley on the field. Let's break down why this was a smart move for Detroit.
Nick Fairley is young and simply made a bone-headed decision. Now, obviously his situation could have been worse, but fortunately it was not.
That being said, the Lions and the NFL do need to enforce a penalty because behavior like that is unacceptable. Nonetheless, the opportunity to participate in OTAs will allow Fairley to appreciate playing pro football even more.
Considering his limited opportunities in 2011 due to injury, Fairley did endure a frustrating rookie season where he recorded just 15 tackles and one sack in 10 games played. Needing to develop and respond with a strong 2012 campaign, Fairley at least has OTAs to fix his issues with the team.
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The Lions would not have selected Nick Fairley at No. 13 overall in the 2011 NFL draft unless they thought he had some game. After all, he did control the line of scrimmage throughout the 2010 college football season at Auburn with 11.5 sacks and 60 tackles.
Possessing great size to make plays as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Fairley can be extremely explosive when healthy to draw double-teams and free up the linebackers.
Detroit also needs a lot of help defensively anyway, as it ranked No. 22 against the pass, No. 23 against the run and No. 29 in allowing an average of five yards per carry. Fairley at the very least provides rotation and depth, so keeping him up to speed on the defense is vital.
Does Detroit need Nick Fairley to win the NFC North?
OTAs are crucial to getting acclimated or re-acclimated to one's position, assignment responsibilities and a basic understanding of the philosophy.
We have to expect the league to penalize Fairley for his actions, and rightfully so, but that doesn't mean Detroit can't prepare him for thereafter. Regardless of the action the NFL takes, without Fairley the Lions still remain a legit NFC North contender and have the overall talent to compete in the NFC.
Getting Fairley mentally prepared via OTAs on their defensive philosophy, however, and where to improve from last season will allow him to hit the ground running once a playing opportunity happens in 2012. Preventing Fairley from learning as much as possible before the league comes in will only limit Detroit's overall defensive line production.
And in the pass-heavy NFC North, where Green Bay remains the standard, having everyone who may contribute as well prepared as possible is imperative to upsetting the Packers.
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