ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit rookie defensive lineman Nick Fairley is making progress as he recovers from surgery on his left foot.
Fairley was walking around Tuesday with a protective boot on the injured foot. The defensive tackle missed the Lions' first preseason game last week, but at least now he's able to move around and be with the team out on the field during practice.
"He got the cast off of his foot. Now he's in the walking boot, so now he can walk around," coach Jim Schwartz said. "You can't have a guy that's on crutches that can't walk around out there."
Fairley didn't have much to say about his injury, but he's clearly putting in the effort to stay involved in team activities.
"Right now I'm taking it day by day. I'm in the treatment room, trying to get back as fast as I can," said Fairley, a first-round draft pick. "I just use this time more to be in the film room, getting my mental reps."
Detroit has had its share of injuries during training camp, but the Lions looked impressive while beating Cincinnati 34-3 in their first preseason game last week. Detroit plays at Cleveland on Friday night.
And then there's Fairley, the Auburn product who is hoping to team up with Ndamukong Suh to form an imposing duo of defensive tackles. Detroit drafted Fairley with the No. 13 pick. He entered the draft after winning the Lombardi Award as a junior with Auburn.
"It's funny to watch him in meetings," Suh said. "He's not going through anything, but he's blurting out answers and just interacting with other guys, particularly myself and the D-tackles."
The Lions have health concerns on the other side of the ball, too. Offensive lineman Jeff Backus (pectoral injury) and rookie wide receiver Titus Young (hamstring) have been out. Rookie running back Mikel Leshoure tore his left Achilles tendon and will miss the season.
"I haven't even thought about his physical problems," Schwartz said. "I think he looks good. He looks like Jahvid Best."
Best led the Lions in rushing last season with 555 yards as a rookie. Although Stafford, Johnson and receiver Nate Burleson looked in-synch against the Bengals, the running game remains a concern.
Best tried to provide some reassurance on that front.
"We're not too worried about it," Best said. "We've only had pads on for about a week and a half now, so you can't really work on the run game until you do that. We know throughout the preseason it's going to get better and better."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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