ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian’s list of 10 pivotal players in the NFL this season includes Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
Fairley showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie last year, but dealt with a broken foot all season. Fairley suffered the injury the second day of training camp and missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the regular season. He missed six regular-season games in all and was never 100-percent.
“Fairley could be the missing piece in making the Detroit defense dominant,” Polian wrote. “If the big Auburn alum can reach his potential, a trio of him, Ndamukong Suh and the emerging Corey Williams could make the Lions’ D-line extremely hard to handle up the middle and wreak havoc on the pocket (which will help an improving secondary).
“I still think the Lions need more from the running back position to be legitimate title contenders, but if Fairley steps up, an already improved defense will be taken to another level.”
Fairley has been participating fully in the offseason training program and the Lions have huge expectations for their first-round pick last year.
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