NFC North: Ogemdi Nwagbuo

Detroit Lions cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: There were no surprises for the Detroit Lions and, really, there were few big decisions. We noted earlier that the team decided to preserve a roster spot for No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore, so the most significant move they did make was placing rookie tight end Michael Williams on injured reserve. The Lions had substantial plans for Williams this season as the third tight end in the jumbo package that lineman Riley Reiff filled last season. They also hoped to develop his receiving skills as veterans Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler enter contract years. Williams had surgery last week to repair a hand injury, and though coach Jim Schwartz said the team had no long-term injuries, Williams is in fact lost for the season. (NFL teams can't start placing players on short-term injured reserve until next week.) As a result, rookie Joseph Fauria -- a much better receiver but less of a blocker than Williams -- is on the 53-man roster with Pettigrew and Scheffler.

The dominoes: The Lions apparently chose veteran Michael Spurlock as their kick returner, necessitating the release of rookie Steven Miller, who could return on the practice squad. Spurlock is also a receiver, and for the now he is one of six on the roster, presumably because of Ryan Broyles' sore knees. The release of veteran Matt Willis means Kris Durham is the sixth receiver. You wonder if the Lions would change directions soon in that regard. The Lions sifted through their big group of veteran defensive backups by tapping Rashean Mathis as a swing cornerback/safety and Rocky McIntosh as a backup linebacker while releasing the rest. John Wendling and Don Carey are the backup safeties for now.

What's next: According to multiple reports, the Lions will place running back Montell Owens on short-term injured reserve. That can't happen until next week, so for now he is part of the 53-man roster. He must miss at least six weeks of the regular season. You would think the Lions will bring back a number of the players they cut Saturday for their practice squad, and it's worth remembering that they are No. 5 in priority for NFL waiver claims. Sunday could be a busy day.

List of players cut: WR: Corey Fuller, Matt Willis. RB: Steven Miller, Shaun Chapas. OL: Rodney Austin, Kevin Haslam, Darren Keyton, Jake Scott. DL: Andre Fluellen, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Xavier Proctor, Jimmy Sadler-McQueen. LB: Brandon Hepburn, Jon Morgan (waived/injured) Chris White. CB: Ron Bartell, Chris Greenwood. S: Amari Spievey, Tyrell Johnson, Martavius Neloms (waived/injured) P: Blake Clingan.

Nick Fairley's breakout season cut short

December, 19, 2012
Nick Fairley's season ended Wednesday because of a shoulder injury he suffered two weeks ago. So what can we say about the performance and future of the Detroit Lions' top draft pick in 2011 after two years in the NFL?

At the top, availability has been a concern. Fairley missed six games last season because of a foot injury and will miss a total of three games because of the shoulder. Big-time players need to be on the field for full seasons. It's also not clear if the NFL will issue a future suspension for a pair of offseason arrests last spring.

When healthy and in the lineup, however, Fairley proved to be one of the NFL's top playmaking defensive tackles this season. In the five games after jumping into the starting lineup for good, Fairley amassed 23 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. On the whole, our friends at Pro Football Focus ranked him their fifth-best defensive tackle based mostly on his total of sacks, quarterback hurries (21), quarterback hits (eight) and stops (23). Stops are solo tackles, including sacks, that constitute an offensive failure.

Fairley looked like a young player at times, amassing 11 penalties, which tied for the third-most among all NFL players. But if Fairley can stay healthy and out of trouble, the Lions have the potential to field a dominant pair of playmaking defensive tackles -- Fairley and Ndamukong Suh -- for years to come.

Note: The Lions placed Fairley on injured reserve and signed free agent defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo.