Lions Notebook: Fairley won't play Sunday

While Nick Fairley has made progress, he won't play Sunday. Plus: Criticism of Backus unwarranted.

Detroit Lions left tackle Jeff Backus has taken a lot of heat this week after his performance against Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker (and pass rush specialist) Tamba Hali last week.

Despite the fact that Backus did have a tough time containing the Pro Bowl pass rusher, the criticism is unwarranted.

Hali is one of the league's premier pass rushers and one that any offensive lineman wouldn't easily contain.

Last year Hali was able to register a sack against Tennessee Titans tackle Michael Roos. Hali had 1.5 sacks against San Diego Charger tackle Marcus McNeil and two sacks against Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Clady.

Roos, McNeil and Clady are widely considered as top-10 NFL tackles.

Since moving from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, Hali has been a force on the edge.

Yes, Hali did hurry, hit and knock down Matthew Stafford on occasion -- a casual feat for a Pro Bowl pass rusher.

Hali deserves credit, Backus does not deserve criticism. Not that the criticism means much in the Lions locker room.

"People that don't work here, play here or coach here really have no relevant opinion," said head coach Jim Schwartz.

Fairley Returns

Rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley took a huge step towards making his first professional in-game appearance.

The 6-3, 291 pound tackle returned to the field on Friday, participating in practice for the first time since breaking his foot on August 1st.

Fairley's return is significant but there is still work to be done before he sees game action.

"Still got a long way to go," said Schwartz. "But there are steps along the way and this is one of them." The road to recovery hasn't been easy but Fairley has put forth a strong effort to keep himself ready.

"I've been in here every day watching him run with the weight coaches and work out," said defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. "He's busting his tail to get back out there and we can't wait until he does."

Fairley will not play this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. There is no clear time table for his return but it appears he may only be a game or two away from making his debut.

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