Nick Fairley seeing difference in himself

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Nick Fairley insists he is feeling better these days, still down in weight from last season and now recovered from the injuries that robbed him of a portion of his spring workouts.

It was surgery, however, that leaves him more confident and feeling better at the start of Detroit Lions training camp. Fixing his issue with sleep apnea -- and also his breathing -- has helped immensely, and he noticed it from the start of training camp on Monday.

“Big difference. Big difference,” Fairley said. “I can tell from my breathing. You can’t even hear me, can you?”

Truthfully, no. Fairley, be it through his weight loss or the surgery or more than likely a combination of both, sounded quieter and appeared much more at ease than he was during the 2013 season, when he weighed at least 320 pounds.

And he’ll even admit he isn’t where he completely wants to be yet. He said Monday that he still needs to get into a little bit better shape but he’s going to use training camp to accomplish that. His goal to become a completely consistent player for the first time in his NFL career.

For Fairley, the question will always return to his weight. In the spring, he was around 295 pounds. On Sunday, he said he was 305, and he is listed on the official roster at 308. While the 10-pound weight gain in six weeks would be a potential concern for a player whose weight has fluctuated so much, Fairley is within the specified parameters set by new Lions coach Jim Caldwell.

“I think it just kind of happened,” Fairley said, describing his weight gain. “I just ... my body is (I’m) a 305 kind of guy.”

On Sunday, before the first practice of the new season, Caldwell said he felt Fairley was on a good path with his conditioning and his weight. More than any other player on the Lions roster, he needs to remain on that track.

“He’s been healthy. He’s been engaged. He’s been in the weight room doing the things that we’ve asked him to do,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. “So I’ve been happy with what he’s done to date.”

Now, Fairley needs to keep doing that throughout the regular season as well.