Jason Fox needs the injuries to finally be behind him

Lions offensive tackle Jason Foxicon-article-link is hoping there will come a time when he conducts an interview that doesn’t inevitably shift to the subject of injuries and his ability to stay healthy.

That day wasn't today, though.

Fox has battled knee and foot problems that have kept him off the field for the better part of his first two seasons in the NFL. Now entering his third season, the biggest question most people have is whether he can stay healthy or not.

“When I’m out there I’m just playing football and not worrying about it,” Fox said after practice Monday. “It’s been on my mind a lot in the offseason. It’s just something that has to be in the past now. It’s no secret I’ve been hurt and now it’s just time to get out there and stay healthy and perform. That’s the bottom line.”

When healthy, Fox has shown that he can play. He continues to share first-team reps with Corey Hilliardicon-article-link in the absence of Jeff Backusicon-article-link at left tackle in training camp. Backus injured his thumb in one-on-one drills Saturday and was spotted with a hard cast on his hand in the locker room Monday. It's unknown when Backus will return to practice.

A fourth-round pick in 2010 (128th overall), Fox was limited to four games during his rookie season because of a knee injury he suffered in college that lingered into his rookie season. He was placed on injured reserve last season with a broken foot.

As long as he can stay healthy, the Lions will give Fox every opportunity to compete for playing time.

“Well, he’s been able to practice and that’s really been his issue for the previous couple years,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Fox. “His availability has been limited. Last year we saw Jeff Backus go down early in camp because he was coming back from that pectoral injury, so it gave a guy like Fox a great opportunity to get reps and was doing well and he got hurt. He ended up missing the season for us.”

Fox knows that can’t happen again or there isn't likely to be a roster spot for him when the team gets to it's final 53.

“Obviously if you’re taking first-team reps there’s pressure to perform,” Fox said.

Schwartz said there’s never been a question about Fox’s talent, just his availability, and this is a big training camp for him.

“How well he’s doing is really a reflection of how available he is because when he’s been available he’s always done a good job in there going back to his rookie year," Schwartz said. He got thrown in at the end of (his rookie year) against Minnesota. He had a rough first series against some really good defensive ends. He came back the rest of the game, played really well. It’s just a matter of him being healthy and if he can do that then he can help us.”

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