Lions Notebook: Team turns to Fairley

With Ndamukong Suh out the next two games, the team will turn to rookie DT Nick Fairley. More news, notes and quotes inside, including a complete injury report.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is piling up some gaudy numbers in his first two seasons -- nine personal-foul penalties, $47,500 in fines, $165,000 in lost salary and, as the NFL decreed Tuesday morning, a two-game suspension.

Suh received a two-game ban for his unsportsmanlike conduct in the Lions-Packers game on Thanksgiving Day, according to a statement from the league. "It was Suh's fifth violation of on-field rules in the past two seasons that has resulted in league discipline," the statement noted.

Suh appealed the suspension.

"He's devastated," Suh's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, told Mike O'Hara of Fox Sports Detroit. "He really is. Missing games means a lot to this guy. He regrets doing it. He takes a lot of pride in being excellent. This really bothers him. It hurts him."

According to the league's statement, a ruling on the appeal will be expedited and made before the Lions play Sunday at New Orleans.

"It hurts to lose any player for two games, much less a player the stature of Ndamukong Suh," coach Jim Schwartz said. "But there's accountability for our actions on the football field. We want to be as tough and as physical and play as hard as we can between the snap and the whistle.

"Anything that happens after the whistle, we put our team in a bad position and we have to pay the consequences."

Suh, unavailable for comment Tuesday, will not be allowed to practice or be at the team's practice facility during the suspension. The Lions will get a roster exemption for the duration of Suh's suspension -- but they can't use it until the appeals process is complete.

Schwartz, while not excusing Suh's actions, tried to keep the incident in perspective.

"This is the first time he's been flagged for an after-the-whistle violation," he said. "It needs to be his last. There is a lot of scrutiny for a player like that, a lot of attention. He is under the microscope, and he needs to act accordingly. But it shouldn't change his effort and toughness between snaps."

Three of Suh's fines have been well-documented -- hits on former Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. He was also fined $5,000 last season for using another player to gain leverage to block a field goal against the Jets.

The fifth one came on Thanksgiving Day, a willful stomp to the arm of Packers offensive guard Evan Dietrich-Smith for which Suh was ejected.

"There is no excuse for losing composure and hurting your team," Schwartz said.

Defensive tackles Sammie Hill and rookie Nick Fairley will fill in for Suh alongside veteran Corey Williams during the suspension.

"We do have depth at defensive tackle," Schwartz said. "Fairley has played well, as has Sammie. And Corey Williams is playing the best football of his career. We're going to be just fine. We will get through this as a team."

Fairley, the 13th overall pick in this year's draft, has been coming on the last two weeks. A foot injury seems to be behind him, finally.


  • QB Matthew Stafford was throwing without gloves and without any wrapping on his fractured right index finger during practice Tuesday. He has thrown nine interceptions the last three games since injuring the finger at Denver.

  • Chris Harris will step in for Louis Delmas at safety alongside strong safety Amari Spievey, and that's a significant drop-off. Veteran special teams ace John Wendling would be the only backup at safety, so expect the Lions to bring in another safety this week.

  • If Chris Houston (day-to-day, knee contusion) can't play, Aaron Berry would start at right cornerback and Eric Wright would move to left cornerback. Berry has been the nickel corner. With Brandon McDonald, the backup nickel, probably out as well, Alphonso Smith likely would serve as the nickel.

    Smith, inactive in two of the last three weeks, was the team's interception leader last season but he hasn't been able to get on the field except for special teams duty.

  • RB Kevin Smith (high ankle sprain) was heavily wrapped but not on crutches as he watched practice Tuesday. The team would not comment on the severity of the injury, but Smith will test the foot either Wednesday or Thursday. Maurice Morris would start if Smith is out.

  • RB Aaron Brown, the team's sixth-round pick in 2008, was signed Sunday to replace injured Jahvid Best (concussion, out of the season). Brown was cut on Sept. 4 to make room for Keiland Williams. But with Best down and Kevin Smith hampered by an ankle sprain, the Lions need a speed back who can be a threat running and catching the ball. "I just prayed for God to put me in a situation where I was comfortable and could pick things up quick, and I got back here -- it worked for the best," Brown said. "This was the first practice, and it felt like I never missed a beat." Brown worked out for the Lions, Titans, Eagles, Broncos, Cowboys and Bengals.

  • WR Calvin Johnson leads the league with 12 receiving touchdowns. He joins Hall of Famers Lance Alworth and Jerry Rice as the only players to catch at least 12 touchdown passes three times in their first five seasons.

  • WR Nate Burleson has had 20 catches for 195 yards in the last three games, with one touchdown. For the season, he has 46 catches for 430 yards. He has also been deployed in the backfield, taking a pair of handoffs the last two games.

  • LT Jeff Backus has started 171 straight games, tying the club record set by Hall of Fame CB Dick LeBeau. The 171 straight starts are the seventh most by an offensive lineman in the NFL since 1970.

  • P Ryan Donahue (quad) was placed on the injured reserve Tuesday. Veteran Ben Graham will handle the punting duties the rest of the season.

  • S Ricardo Silva, a rookie, was signed off the team's practice squad to fill the roster vacancy created when P Ryan Donahue went on injured reserve. The move was made because starting FS Louis Delmas is expected to miss the next two games with a knee injury.

  • DE Lawrence Jackson (thigh) did not practice Tuesday. He has missed the past two games.

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