The Lions' John Wendling (29) and Nick Fairley greet each other on the field before the game against the Giants at Ford Field in Detroit. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Mobile, Ala. — General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions have not yet determined whether they’ll pick up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley’s rookie contract, which would keep him in Detroit through 2015.
However, Mayhew did say Fairley has to mature to become the consistent force he expected when he drafted Fairley in the first round out of Auburn in 2011.
“He could play more consistently,” Mayhew said Monday after the first Senior Bowl practice. “He’s got to mature a little bit as a professional I think, and I think that would be a big step in him playing more consistently.”
One potential reason for the inconsistency is Fairley’s weight. Though he’s listed at 298 pounds, Fairley played this season closer to 320 pounds, but Mayhew said he doesn’t need to lose weight.
“I wouldn’t say his weight is too high,” he said. “He could probably reposition some of that weight.”
Fairley has been unstoppable at times during his first three NFL seasons, but there are certainly other times when he hasn’t appeared to give 100 percent effort.
Fairley finished the 2013 season with 35 tackles, three for loss, six sacks, two forces fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a safety, and he played in 15 games, the most of his three seasons as he’s dealt with multiple injuries.
Coupled with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Lions should have one of the most destructive defensive lines in the NFL. Though the Lions finished sixth in rushing defense in 2013, they had just 33 sacks, ranking 28th in the league.
“I like the way our defensive line played,” Mayhew said. “Obviously, (more) sack production would’ve been big for us and would’ve been a big difference in some of those games, but I was in no way disappointed with our defensive line.”