Fairley: Demotion was 'wake-up call,' intends to win back starting job

Do you think Nick Fairley will win back his starting job?

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Football players are supposed to get in shape during training camp.

Not Nick Fairley.

He reportedly came to camp about 3 1/2 weeks ago at 305 pounds, but on Wednesday Fairley said he was at 315, apparently down a few pounds from where he was a week ago.

How do you gain that much weight with regular practices going on during such a structured part of the season as training camp?

"I really can't tell you," said Fairley, entering his fourth season as a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. "Just eating. That's it.

"I would say my eating habits got out of the way within these past two weeks, that's all."

Fairley, who met with the media following Wednesday's practice for the first time since he was demoted last week from starter to second-team, admitted that 305 is probably his "ideal" playing weight, but he said he's just fine with where he's at right now.

"I feel good," he said. "I can play here (at 315)."

Fairley said that his demotion was a "wake-up call" for him, but he still intends to win back the starting job from C.J. Mosley before the regular season begins on September 8.

"My plans? Yes," Fairley said.

He knows he has some work to do to win that spot back.

"Go out there and play my balls off," Fairley said. "Continue to bust my butt."

Fairley can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, but this latest issue could make both sides seriously consider parting ways.

"What it means, I couldn't tell you, to be honest," Fairley said. "I want to be here. I want to stay here in Detroit."

The Lions probably would like that, too, but only if he stays in shape and starts to give a consistent effort, which he hasn't done since being their first-round draft pick in 2011.

SUH-PRAISE

Teammate Ndamukong Suh, an All-Pro D-tackle, went to an extreme to describe Fairley's potential.

"I haven't said this a lot or to many people, but Nick is more athletically gifted than me," Suh said. "He has an opportunity to be better than me. That's what I want to see out of him."

Told about Suh's comment, Fairley said, "That feels great coming from him."

Was it an exaggeration by Suh? Of course.

But it does show that the expectations are extremely high for Fairley, much higher than he's consistently delivered during his first three seasons in the league.