Darius Slay had an unceremonious departure from the Lions, but he’s leaving that behind heading into his first game against his former team.
The Detroit Lions played against an old friend in Week 7 when they took on the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback Matthew Stafford. This week the Philadelphia Eagles will visit Ford Field, and cornerback Darius Slay will be playing his first game against his former team.
Slay was drafted by the Lions in the second round of the 2013 draft. In his third season, he started shadowing the opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver with results befitting a shutdown corner (47 catches allowed on 73 targets in his coverage). In 2017 he earned his first of three straight Pro Bowl selections, while leading the league with eight interceptions.
But things went awry for Slay in Detroit when Matt Patricia took over as head coach in 2018. Patricia profanely called Slay out for an Instagram post featuring he and Odell Beckham Jr. after joint practices with the New York Giants. Slay also tweeted his displeasure when fellow cornerback Quandre Diggs was traded during the 2019 season. Slay would follow Diggs out the door in March of 2020, traded to the Eagles for two draft picks.
Darius Slay fully embracing return to Detroit
Slay made it clear it was a frayed relationship with Patricia that pushed him out the door in Detroit. But speaking to reporters this week, it’s clear he’s ready to leave that behind as he returns to play the Lions.
“That’s my second home,” said Slay. “I was there for seven years. I appreciate (former Lions GM) Martin Mayhew taking a chance on drafting me, the Lions organization for taking a chance on me being there. I’ve got a lot of family there. I built a lot of good relationships, so it’s a good home visit for me. I appreciate the fans, for sure. I’m real big in the community there, so it’s going to be a good feeling to be back in Detroit.”
Slay added how he plans to head to Captain Jay’s Fish and Chicken, a famous food spot in the area. He said he would be “taking me an Uber straight there” upon the Eagles landing in Detroit on Saturday.
“Everybody knows about it in Detroit. That’s one of the best chicken spots down there, so I can’t wait to go get that,” he said. “That’s probably what I’m gonna do when I get there.”
“They got this stuff they call crack. It’s not actually crack.” [Phew.] “It’s only but sugar, lemon pepper and salt that’s in a little can. You pour it on your chicken, get a little spice to it, then put some hot sauce on it, then you throw the crack on the fries.”
The 30-year old Slay is still playing at a high level, rated by Pro Football Focus as the Eagles’ best defensive player this season. Even PFF’s numbers vary a bit, but the consensus says Slay is playing well.
The Lions don’t have a wide receiver worthy of Slay’s shadow coverage this week. So he’ll probably move around, and draw a good dose of tight end T.J. Hockenson on Sunday. In any case, Slay will be the second former Lions star in as many weeks in position to offer a glimpse at what might have been if the previous regime had been competent.