Fairley back at practice for Lions
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit defensive tackle Nick Fairley took one significant step toward returning from his knee injury when he practiced with the Lions on Thursday.
Fairley hasn't played since injuring his right knee in a win over Atlanta on Oct. 26. The Lions open the playoffs at Dallas on Sunday.
''I'm here to help the team win, here to help the team any way I can,'' Fairley said. ''If that's being on the sideline motivating guys, that's what I'm going to do.''
The Lions listed Fairley as limited Thursday. Coach Jim Caldwell said earlier in the week it would be a ''miracle'' if Fairley could play this weekend, but Fairley looked trim and active during the portion of practice open to reporters.
''Guys know he can help us win,'' defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Thursday. ''We'll see how far he comes along this week and shoot, maybe a miracle happens.''
Fairley has started every game he's played in over the last two seasons, forming an imposing tandem inside with Ndamukong Suh. He was injured when he hit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on a pass play. Suh, rushing Ryan from the other side, crashed into Fairley, and after falling awkwardly, Fairley clutched his knee and was noticeably limping as he was helped off the field.
It may be too early to tell how effective Fairley can be and how much he can play Sunday - if at all.
''Well the difference with Nick is that in five to seven plays he can actually make some game-changing plays,'' Austin said. ''That would be something we weigh when we get a little closer to Sunday.''
Fairley is listed at 308 pounds but said he is at 290 now.
''I think the weight off is kind of helping me not put stress on my knee,'' he said.
NOTES: Lions WR Golden Tate was dismissive of Dallas S Barry Church, who was quoted as saying the Cowboys would try to pay Tate back for a hit on Dallas LB Sean Lee in 2012. ''That was a dirty shot. We're looking forward to seeing him,'' Church told radio station 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, according to ESPN.com. ''We'll definitely get him back after that, but it will be within the rules, within the rules.'' Tate's response: ''I think we already have an advantage. That's taking away from the game, and I think that's selfish that another man is trying to get revenge for another man's problem I guess. It's kind of weird.''
AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL