Lions defensive coordinator: Fairley is “starting to get into shape”


At the end of the 2010 college football season, then-Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was widely pegged as the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Fairley tumbled to the 13th selection due to off-the-field concerns, and he’s done little to silence them through two training camps and one statistically quiet rookie year.

Fairley was arrested twice this offseason and got off to a painfully slow start at training camp.

“He struggled early when we started camp, and he’s starting to get into shape,” Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “… Nick lacks some of that maturity, and he had to work overtime.”

Lions camp has been going on for almost a month. So it’s probably an ominous sign that Fairley is just now rounding into shape. He has three tackles through two preseason games.

“He’s got all the tools to be a very good player,” Cunningham acknowledged. “The biggest problem for him, he’s going to have to grow up fast and be consistent. … Because if the offensive line smells blood, they’re going to get him.”

Fairley conceded that he’s “not where I want to be,” and he’s yet to seriously push starter Corey Williams for playing time next to Ndamukong Suh. When they drafted Fairley, the Lions probably thought they’d have a starter by now.

And Fairley still hasn’t heard back from the league about his likely forthcoming suspension.

17 responses to “Lions defensive coordinator: Fairley is “starting to get into shape”

  1. If you did nothing else but read this article, you’d think the kid was a bust, BUT, if you actually saw him play you’d know Gunther’s just motivating the guy.

    Fairley has a chance to be Great, not just good and Gund trying to push him there. His first step is ridiculous as he often beats his man off the line…just not getting credit for tackle. Maybe he doesn’t reach his full potential, but the talent is there to be special

  2. He looked terrible against the ravens. Lining up offsides as a 3 technique? Then being so winded he couldn’t get into his stance before the ball was snapped the very next play, so he gets pushed 8 yards downfield? The guy looked pathetic. Sign sammie lee hill longterm and let this guy go next offseason if something doesn’t change dramatically over the course of the season.

  3. Great just what I wanna hear. Hopefully Willie Young ends up being as good as he looks. Can’t afford Suh and Fairley to both be disappointments on this team.

  4. Fairly will be fine… Tune up and tough love by ‘Dad’ Gunther.

    Some kids believe too much of their own hype coming out of college and have to learn that in the NFL, everyone’s a college superstar… and then retrain to take things to a much higher level.

    Go LIONS!

  5. I am not a Fairley apologist, but I think it’s more than a little unfair to mention his “statistically quiet rookie year” without mentioning he broke his foot in training camp, missed most of his first NFL training camp, missed most of the season, and wasn’t 100% when he returned. He may very well turn out to be a bust, but it’s a little too early to put that label on him now.

  6. Hey Silva, you forgot to mention he had surgery on his foot last year and missed about half the season. Of course that fact would take away from your narrative.

  7. I find it strange that ya’ll report every little tidbit about the LIONS and always try to spin the negative. Taking jabs every chance you get. BUT you don’t do the same for all the other NFC North teams………does none of the Packer players or coaches even talk?????? Why don’t you spend an equal amount of time reading every GB beat writers word on the pack and then spin it into negativity here?? Why is that??? I mean is it just complete silence at these other facilities?? I doubt it.

  8. rufustfireflyjr says:Aug 23, 2012 9:15 AM

    Iks311, talent without motivation is useless.
    Very true, but, anyone that really follows the Lions, and doesn’t just do a cut-and-paste job like this guy, will tell you Gunther did this to Willie Young and a 1/2 dozen other talented young kids on that Defense.

    Who he hasn’t bothered to comment about is Amari Speivey—who I am beginning to believe is a bust. Follow? No talent worth talking about.

    I think Fairley is going to be fine.

  9. All that talent going to waste because he has no motor. Go figure playing in the motor city.
    Another 1 yr wonder blunder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Fairley is a perfect example for the arguement against rookies getting “guaranteed money”.
    Maybe some players don’t make the impact that teams think they will but thats the gamble GM’s take when they draft them.
    Still they should , at the very least , be in shape . And if they can’t the ” guaranteed money ” should be witheld.

  11. Mr. Silva took the liberty to only use parts of Gun’s response, because if you all saw the whole quote, he mentions how Willie Young was exactly the same way (somewhat immature and aloof) when he first came into the league, and had to learn what it takes to be a pro. Willie has turned out just fine so far and I expect the same from Nick.

    For the slightly dimmer bulbs here already leaving comments such as “he’s a bust”, just remember he barely played last year due to injury and you guys were probably writing off Stafford right away due to his injuries. Have patience.

  12. This is really pickin pennies but when he did play last year he showed the motor and skill to be a good/great dline talent..give it time.

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