Detroit Lions CB Amani Oruwariye enlists Darius Slay’s help vs. Vikings’ Justin Jefferson

Detroit Free Press

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In his quest to stop top Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson on Sunday, Detroit Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye is enlisting a little help from his friend.

Oruwariye said he plans to be in regular contact with former Lions cornerback Darius Slay this week to find out how Slay shut down one of the NFL’s best receivers.

Slay had two interceptions in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Vikings on Monday, when he held Jefferson to one catch in five targets when targeted as the nearest defender, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Slay was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Jefferson, the NFL’s leading receiver since he entered the league in 2020, finished with six catches (on 12 targets) for 48 yards, the second-lowest total of his career.

“Slay’s a good friend of mine obviously being here, so I’m definitely going to chop it up with him, talk to him, see what he saw,” Oruwariye told the Free Press on Wednesday. “See how they were trying to get him the ball. See how it changed throughout the game. I want to know as much information, so it’s good to have a resource like that.”

Jefferson has been one of the league’s premier playmakers since the Vikings took him with the 22nd pick of the 2020 draft. He set a Super Bowl-era rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards and followed with 1,616 yards last year.

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The Eagles kept Jefferson in check by playing a mix of coverages with a heavy dose of Cover 1 Double, according to Pro Football Focus, where Slay played man-to-man on Jefferson and safety Marcus Epps was in help coverage.

Slay shadowed Jefferson on both sides of the field, but did not travel with him in the slot. No matter who covered Jefferson, Oruwariye said the Eagles made stopping the third-year receiver a focal point of their defense.

“A lot of the times they really just put the emphasis on him, taking him out however they want to do it,” Oruwariye said. “But obviously in certain situations I think he’s great at the line, he’s great at the second level, so just try to get your hands on him and limit him as much as you can. And like I said, in those third-and-short and critical situations, we just got to win the down, find a way to win the down, play with leverage and I think we’ll be all right.”

Jefferson has feasted on the Lions early in his career: He has more receiving yards (501) against the Lions than any other team, and last year had 18 catches for 306 yards in two games against Detroit, with four catches of 20-plus yards.

“He’s definitely up there as one of the top receivers in the league, if not the top receiver in the league,” Oruwariye said. “Especially with Davante (Adams) leaving (the Green Bay Packers), he’s definitely the guy that you got to worry about, especially playing him twice a year. But he’s dynamic, man. They’re going to try to get him the ball, especially with this new former Rams type offense (the Vikings run). They’re going to try to emulate what Cooper Kupp did and feed him, so we’ve just got to make sure we take him away as best we could.”

Oruwariye said he is over the back injury that kept him out of last week’s win over the Washington Commanders, which he called “just some complications I’ve been dealing with for a little bit.”

He “felt something weird” during stretching before practice Thursday, then sat out practice Friday and missed the game with continued tightness.

Jeff Okudah has played well as the Lions’ No. 2 cornerback the past two weeks, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said the Lions will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to stop Jefferson and the rest of the Vikings’ high-powered offense.

“Obviously, we all know the Eagles have some really good players, just like most every team in this league,” Glenn said. “They had guys play over top of him, they didn’t want to get beat, and they just played hard, man. They have a really good defense and they do things the right way, the way defense should be played. And I look at every team’s defense and see how they operate, like any coach, I think we’ll look and see if we can pick up tips of what they’ve done. But we’ll have our own plan that we feel to go out there and be successful against them, that’s what we’re going to use.”

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