Fair Hopes to Bounce Back

It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to upgrade their defensive secondary during this off-season. They were shutout during free agency and were not able to sign one of the cornerbacks that they had targeted. The secondary needs now have to be addressed through the draft unless a veteran cornerback becomes available.

Pittsburgh did take a chance on veteran Terry Fair who was signed in January. The Steelers expended very little in signing Fair. The 27-year-old hasn't played football in nearly two years after serious foot and ankle injuries. He received no signing bonus and will receive his minimum salary of $535,000 on a one-year contract he signed only if he makes the 53-man roster in September.

Fair is working out at the Steelers' facilities on the Southside and says he is healthy.

"Right now I'm doing really well," Fair explained. "I'm about 100 percent and I'm just happy to have the opportunity to be back to where I need to be physically. It's really frustrating not being able to play this past year and being injured the previous year, but it's part of life and it's part of the game and those things happen. I'm just happy to be a hundred percent now and come out here and have the opportunity to get back on the field and do what I do best."

Fair's right foot was broken in Detroit, and the Lions released him in 2002. The Carolina Panthers signed him, and he played the first three games that season before they placed him on injured reserve with a broken right ankle. The Panthers released him last year and he spent all of 2003 working out in Phoenix.

Fair sized up the situation in Pittsburgh and sees an opportunity.

"It a great opportunity for me here," Fair said. "They had some trouble last year, but they've had good players here and I think I can come in and fit in very well. If I just come in and do what I have to do and continue to progress and pick up from where I left off before I got injured. There's no doubt in my abilities and what I can do. It's just a matter of getting that opportunity and getting back out on the field.

"When you are injured there's a lot said and a lot of people have their ideas about you, but I put it in the Lords hands and the rest I put in mine to go work and do what I have to do to get back to where I need to be. I've been doing all the necessary things to get back there."

Fair is a former first-round draft choice of the Detroit Lions. At 5 feet 9, 185 pounds he has been timed recently at below average for a cornerback. Injuries have caused him to lose some of the speed that made him the NFL's top kickoff return man in 1998, his rookie season in Detroit.

"Speed wise I feel that I'm where I need to be," Fair stated. "Coming in when I worked out here I didn't run the way I wanted too, but at the same time there were a lot of things that played into that. I felt that my speed has been fine and my speed is fine now. It's just a matter of going out there on the field and competing and putting it all together. I'm real happy with where I'm at and I'm just ready to get back out on the field."

If Fair can bounce back it would be a big boost for the Steelers' secondary, but that is a big if?

"I am a young guy," Fair explained. "I'm only 27 years old and this would have been my seventh year in the league, but now it's my sixth because I didn't play last year. I've still got a lot of football left in me; my knowledge of the game is still there. I've never lost a step mentally and I think physically I've dealt with that issue already and here I am back in the swing of things I'm ready willing and able to do what I have to do and all I need is the opportunity."

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