Finally healthy, Fairley leaves impression on Lions coaches

The Detroit Lions have had high expectations for defensive tackle Nick Fairley since he was selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. They still do, even though nearly all of Fairley's rookie season has been a wash to this point due to a broken bone in his foot he suffered during training camp. 

The Lions have witnessed only flashes of Fairley's athleticism and potential this season -- he played in three games before aggravating the injury in Week 7 -- but recently those moments have been more frequent.

Fairley didn't even appear on the Lions' injury report this week as he took part in full practices, and he managed to leave quite the impression.

"This kid, he made a play Thursday that I made all the coaches show in their meeting," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunninghamtold The Detroit News. "It went beyond something I've ever seen from a big tackle."

The play in question, according to The News, was Fairley chasing a reverse 50 yards downfield while outrunning linebackers to make the play.

"This guy is gifted athletically," Cunningham said. "He's faster than (Ndamukong) Suh. I don't know if you know that."

The addition of Fairley created a substantial offseason buzz about the new-look Lions' defense, which it turns out has been just fine without the rookie. But the buzz is back, and Fairley should get some playing time during Sunday's game in Chicago in a rotation behind Suh and Corey Williams.

"He's as healthy as he's been since the injury in training camp," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We're ready to see some big things from him. We are expecting to see some big things from him."

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