Darius Slay Ready For Top Receivers In NFL After Practicing With Antonio Brown
Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay is hoping to have a breakout season this year, but the young defensive back knows the road to being one of the elite players in the NFL is not a very easy one. Slay found out first hand that he still has a long way to go when the team practiced against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. While the Lions have high hopes of making the playoffs this year, the loss of Calvin Johnson, who retired after last season, might be too much to overcome, which is why NFL betting odds have the Lions missing the playoffs.
During practice this week, Slay had to go up against Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, who led the league in receiving yards last year. During their first practice, Brown beat Slay on a deep route, slay said he figured Brown would try to show off for the fans, so it didn’t bother him.
The second time they lined up against each other, Brown beat Slay again on a deep route, then did it a third time. Slay told reporters Brown told him he would be running deep routes on him all day.
After getting beat the third time, Slay saw some officials on the sideline and decided to have a word with them. Slay said he told the officials to tell Brown to stop pushing him off the top of the route, and that he feels Brown’s arms on his back anytime he tries to cover the receiver.
Despite the complaint, Slay said he enjoyed the competition with Brown because it made him a better player.
Ever since he joined the Lions, Slay had been competing against Calvin Johnson, who was a tall and strong player. Playing against Johnson helped Slay learn how to cover tall receivers, however, at 5 feet 11 inches, Brown isn’t considered a tall receiver.
While Brown doesn’t have the prototypical height, he makes up for it in different ways. Brown is a very shifty receiver that uses his quickness to his advantage by forcing defenders to adjust on the fly. Brown is so dangerous that Slay said he didn’t want to defend him at the line of scrimmage because he is very difficult to deal with and can make defenders look bad while trying to slow him down.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell admitted covering Brown was a difficult task for Slay because of Brown’s speed and the fact that he understands how to disrupt the coverage techniques defenders use.
Slay said he hasn’t faced anyone like Brown in the NFC North because the receivers in the division are either tall receivers like Alshon Jeffery in Chicago or fast like Mike Wallace, who played for the Vikings last year.
Slay said facing Brown in practice will help him improve his game as he is expected to cover the best receivers on opposing teams this season regardless of their size or speed.
After the first set of reps in which Brown blew past him, Slay held his own the rest of the way. Slay also said he didn’t mind the trash talking that Brown did because he goes through it every day with Golden Tate, and nicknamed Brown the Golden Tate of Pittsburgh.