The Detroit Lions have been without defensive tackle Corey Williams for several games this season because of an injury. This has given Nick Fairley an opportunity to start in four games this season, and he has made the most of it, to say the very least. On the season, Fairley has 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 22 tackles and 1 pass defense. He is finally starting to play like a first-round pick, and he is really taking his game to another level.
Just look at what Fairley did this past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He recorded 7 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 1 forced fumble. He was a constant issue for the Packers' offensive line, and he spent a lot of time getting in Aaron Rodgers face. This was the Fairley we saw for a quarter last year in New Orleans. The difference now is that he's healthy, and he has been much more consistent.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz thinks Fairley's improvement has a lot to do with him maturing both on and off the field. Considering his offseason was marred by two arrests, Fairley has seemingly come a long way in 2012. From the Free Press:
"Nick has done that, and he's maturing as a player, he's maturing as a person, and he's been a guy the defense can count on being in the right spot," Schwartz said. "This is probably his most assignment-sound game that he's ever played. And it showed in the stat sheet, it showed in the play."
I'd like to see Fairley continue to start even when Williams returns for the Lions. Williams is still a solid defensive tackle, but Fairley has shown he deserves to be in the starting lineup on a weekly basis.