After the Detroit Lions declined to pick up the fifth-year option in Nick Fairley's contract, the defensive tackle responded by shedding nearly 30 pounds. He got all the way down to 295 pounds at one point, and the Lions' motivational tactic seemed to work, at least for part of the offseason, anyway.
As the Lions get ready for their second preseason game, it appears they are once again trying to motivate Fairley. This week, he has practiced with the second-team defense after the Lions elevated C.J. Mosley to the No. 1 unit. The exact reasoning behind Fairley's demotion hasn't been made clear, but MLive reported that his weight could have something to do with it. Also, Dave Birkett reported this on Wednesday:
This isn't an exact weight, but I asked someone in the organization what Fairley weighs now. Their guess: About 320— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) August 13, 2014
Fairley's demotion isn't just about weigh, it's about motivating him to play better & improve practice habits. Shedding a few LBs would help— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) August 13, 2014
With Fairley in a contract year, you would think these extra motivational tactics wouldn't be necessary. However, this pretty much sums up why the Lions declined his fifth-year option in the first place. There is clearly a disconnect between what the Lions are expecting out of Fairley and what he is delivering on a day-to-day basis. He's got a lot of potential, especially when lined up alongside Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle, but the lack of consistency from Fairley is a bit troubling.
It's unclear just how long Fairley will be stuck with the second-team defense. Based on what's happened in practice this week, it seems likely that Mosley will start on Friday in Oakland, but there's no telling if this will be a one-week thing or something more permanent. I suppose it will ultimately come down to how Fairley responds to his apparent demotion.