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If any Lions player needed a good offseason, it was mercurial defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
Fairley was initially a loser, as the team declined to pick up his fifth-year contract option. That's a definite slap in the face for the former first-round pick.
The rotund Auburn product had a choice to make. He could get angry and bitter about it, or he could refocus himself and strive to impress.
To steal a line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he chose wisely.
Fairley lost considerable weight—at least 20 pounds—after the end of the season. His increasing girth throughout the season was a sore point. When he threw out the first pitch at a Tigers game (pictured), it was obvious not only that he has lost a lot of weight, but also that the remaining weight is better distributed.
A change in diet gets part of the credit, but Fairley also finally addressed his sleep apnea issue. It caused him to miss a few sessions of OTAs, but in the long run, the minor surgery will prove totally worthwhile.
Fairley is playing for a new contract and he knows it. From various quotes and in talking to team sources, there is a very real change in the enigmatic talent. He seems genuinely happy to be held to task, something the Jim Schwartz regime never took seriously.
A fit, rested and motivated Fairley can only mean good things for the Lions defense this season. So far, so good.