Lions' Slay earning high praise around NFL

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

San Francisco — Lions cornerback Darius Slay had a rough start to his career, but one receiver in the NFC North said this week that Slay has made massive strides the past two years.

“To be honest with you, he’s done a 360,” Packers wide receiver James Jones said at the Super Bowl’s radio row. “Even watching him on film, and he followed me both games (this year), man, and really got after me both games.

“Just watching him on film and going against him, he’s definitely getting better, and you can tell it means something to him to get better because his first (year), guys were picking on him and things like that. The last couple years, he’s come on, and he’s going to be a good player.”

Slay played like a top NFL cornerback this year. With Rashean Mathis missing the final nine games, the Lions started to ask Slay to follow No. 1 receivers like Kansas City’s Jeremy Maclin and Oakland’s Amari Cooper in some games. And teams rarely threw Slay direction in those last nine games.

“Darius Slay is good, man. I like the kid,” Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders said.

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Sanders said he Slay actually calls him from time to time. Slay’s former agent Eugene Parker put them in touch, and Sanders always tells him to study and prepare.

“Whatever you put in the game, you’re going to get out of it,” Sanders said.

Parker also put Slay in touch with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, and the two of them worked out in California after Slay’s rookie year, a season in which he was benched two games into the year.

Now, Slay has a new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and is hoping to sign an extension this offseason before playing on the final year of his deal in 2016.

“He’s a very good press corner because he’s tall, he’s long, he’s able to get his hands on you, and he’s smart,” Jones said.

“You can tell he understands the game. He knows when to look back; he knows when receivers are breaking down, what they’re thinking. And you can tell he’s really a student of the game.”