ALLEN PARK, Mich. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested twice during the offseason, once for allegedly driving 100 mph while under the influence of alcohol back in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.
He was fortunate there was no tragic outcome like the one early Saturday morning involving Dallas Cowboys practice-squad player Jerry Brown Jr.
Brown was killed in a car accident when he was a passenger in a vehicle driven by teammate Josh Brent, who allegedly was drunk.
Fairley, 24, says hes learned from his own mistakes, but the BrownBrent incident was a harsh reminder of what can happen.
It was an eye-opener, Fairley said. Just look at it and learn from it.
Fairleys future appeared to be on the line following his offseason trouble. One more similar incident might have been the end of his days in Detroit.
He had showed his considerable potential at times on the field during an injury-plagued rookie year, but a lack of consistency was maddening for the coaching staff and anyone who watched him.
There were legitimate questions about whether the 6-foot-4, 298-pound Fairley might end up wasting all his talent.
But he has put those concerns to rest, at least for the time being, over the last few weeks. Some much-needed maturity is showing through in his success.
You mature every year, every game, Fairley said. I think if youre out there more and being able to play, you mature as a player.
Maturing off the field, yes, Id say I have, making smarter decisions and better choices.
The Lions have decided to shut down Fairleys mentor, veteran defensive tackle Corey Williams, for the season because of ongoing knee problems.
Williams, who has missed four of the last five games and six overall, was placed on injured reserve, the club announced Wednesday.
That makes Fairleys status for Sundays game against Arizona that much more important.
Fairley, who has replaced Williams in the starting lineup the last five games, didnt practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury sustained in the last game.
Really cant say, Fairley said when asked about his chances to play this week. Ill get with the doctor this week and try to get it back so I can be ready to go.
Fairley, a first-round draft pick in 2011, has developed into one of the leagues most productive defensive tackles over the last month.
He has four sacks and a total of 23 tackles the last five games. The Lions are 0-5 during that stretch, but its certainly not a reflection on Fairley.
Nick has emerged and has played well, coach Jim Schwartz said. Its a good sign for our defensive line, its a good sign for our defense.
Fairley now has 5 sacks for the season, which is tied with teammate Ndamukong Suh for the third-most in the NFL by a defensive tackle. Cincinnatis Geno Atkins has 10 and Chicagos Henry Melton has six.
The FairleySuh duo inside has been one of the few bright spots for the Lions during this losing streak.
We feed off each other, Fairley said. Hes more of a power-type guy. Ive got a little power, too. Hes got speed. Ive got speed.
He might get a double-team one time, I get a double-team (another time). The way we look at it, whenever one of us gets a one-on-one, weve got to win it.
Fairley has been winning a lot of them lately. Hes a young guy who made some mistakes, but he seems to be on the right path now.
Suh, on being called for a late hit on Green Bays Aaron Rodgers: It must be nice to be a quarterback in this league. If you go back and look at the play, I was held. So if I was late, theres a reason why I was late.
Suh, on whether he got fined for the play: Todays Wednesday, I have nothing in my locker (from the league).
Suh, on a story in which an anonymous teammate supposedly criticized him: You know where my locker is if you got something to say to me. In my heart of hearts, I really dont think its true.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, on suggestions hes playing injured: Im not injured.
Coach Jim Schwartz, on putting Williams on IR: Very difficult decision. Hes an extremely tough player whos played through a lot of injuries and a lot of pain. You could always count on him. It tells you a little bit about how his knee has been. It just got to the point it was the best decision to shut him down for his future and our ability to put a team on the field.
To take Williams roster spot, the Lions re-signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, who was the odd-man-out up front when the final cuts were made before the season.