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Let’s duck into our football time machine and crank the dial to the beginning of last March. Brace yourselves, because we’re entering hostile territory and going back to a time when the lockout was in its infancy.

But we’ll try to ignore the lockout pot shots, and focus on the only positive event the NFL had going at the time: the 2011 draft. Let’s zero in that focus even further to concentrate on two rather large, talented defensive linemen.

One would tumble, and there would be talk of his career lasting only a few years. The other would fall only slightly and be selected by the Detroit Lions with their 13th overall pick. The latter of course is Nick Fairley and the former is Da’Quan Bowers, who was pegged as high as first overall in early February mock drafts but fell all the way to the Bucs with their 51st overall pick due to serious concerns about his knee.

As we crept closer to the draft, Bowers’ tumble became inevitable, and each day another team reportedly crossed the former Clemson stud who had 15.5 sacks in 2010 off of their draft board. There were legitimate fears that his injury restricted Bowers to only a 50-50 chance of being that same dominant defensive end in the NFL.

Now one player is looking great and running at full speed, and the other had a special medical appointment in North Carolina. The guy at full speed isn’t named Fairley.

Fairley injured his left foot on Monday, and has been hobbling around in a walking boot since. Concern over the severity of the injury began to rise yesterday, and now it’s approaching an orange threat level.

Fairley had X-rays that didn’t reveal serious damage, but head coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions’ medical team sill had some concerns. That prompted the pilgrimage to North Carolina to see Dr. Robert Anderson, who Schwartz said examined Fairley this morning.

For now, the team still doesn’t know much.

“As soon as we get something else from Dr. Anderson, his opinion and the course of action that we’re going to take with Nick then we’ll let you guys know,” Schwartz told the media Wednesday afternoon.

The Lions selected Fairley to complement Ndamukong Suh and elevate an already effective pass rush that had 44 sacks last year. Most of all, he’s yet another high draft pick that gives Detroit something it so desperately needs: hope.

Stay safe out there, Lions fans.

UPDATE: Fairley needed a surgical procedure and is expected to miss a significant portion of training camp.