Lions DT Nick Fairley will avoid knee surgery, but his return to the Lions this year unknown

The Detroit Lions still don’t know whether Nick Fairley will return this season.

But they have gotten one piece of good news: He won’t require surgery.

“He’s had a couple evaluations, and the doctors have stressed that rest and hopefully some healing will give them a clearer picture of what should be done,” coach Jim Caldwell said before Friday’s practice. “Right now, it’s a nonsurgical procedure.”

Fairley is out for the immediate future with a sprained right knee. He suffered the injury two weeks ago when teammate Ndamukong Suh rolled into him against Atlanta.

The injury is a major blow to Detroit’s top-ranked defense, which already has sustained season-ending injuries to starting cornerback Bill Bentley and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Fairley was having a career season at defensive tackle, a major reason why Detroit has been so stout against the run.

Veteran reserve C.J. Mosley will start in Fairley’s place Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

“Obviously Nick’s a great talent, but C.J.’s been playing all along for us in there, and he’s been in the rotation,” Caldwell said. “Starter early in the (pre)season. But nevertheless, I think he’ll be fine.”

Rookie Caraun Reid is expected to see more time at tackle, and ends Jason Jones, Darryl Tapp and George Johnson could see some time inside as well.

Caldwell also announced captains this week are LaAdrian Waddle on offense, George Johnson on defense and Jeremy Ross on special teams.

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