The defensive tackle, who was demoted to the second string in the middle of training camp and remained there through the rest of the preseason, was listed on the team's unofficial depth chart as starting alongside Ndamukong Suh for next Monday night's opener against the New York Giants.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell spoke to the media before the depth chart was released and pushed any questions about depth-chart issues toward the release of the unofficial chart.
Fairley struggled with his weight throughout the preseason. He weighed less than 300 pounds in the spring but came into camp at 308. When Fairley spoke about his demotion, he said he was 315 pounds but appeared to be heavier than that.
His current weight, he said, is between 305 and 310 pounds. To keep him at his desired weight, he hired a chef last month after conversations with his agent, Brian Overstreet.
The former first-round pick said the demotion behind C.J. Mosley was attention-grabbing.
"Yeah, I'm sure it did [serve as a wake-up call]. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it did," Fairley said Monday. "That's one thing I got to do this year is play consistent for this team to help us get wins."
Fairley said when he spoke in mid-August that he planned on winning his starting role back by the beginning of the season.
"I felt real good," Fairley said. "Just preseason, that's where you knock off your rust going into the season, getting ready to go. I felt like those last three preseason games, I knocked my rust off and I'm ready to go for Monday night."
The fourth-year pro is in a contract year after the Lions declined to pick up his fifth-year option in the offseason.
Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said then that the move was in part to motivate Fairley, who has been inconsistent throughout his career. In three seasons, Fairley has played in 38 games, making 84 tackles with 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.