Lions’ Slay goes to ‘hands school’ to get more picks

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Cornerback Darius Slay and Crezdon Butler wait patiently, somewhat, to get their turn on the football passing machine Thursday.

Allen Park — Lions safety Glover Quin said a couple weeks ago that Darius Slay is already among the top-10 cornerbacks in the NFL. The only thing Slay can do to raise his game is intercept more passes, according to Quin.

So, at the advice of the elder defensive back, Slay has been going to “hands school” before and after organized team activities the past two weeks.

“It’s just like catching the ball just all day,” Slay said after OTAs on Thursday. “Just any time you’re just chilling, just be catching something.”

Slay’s goal is to catch the ball 1,000 times during the three weeks of OTAs, and with 10 practices, he said he plans to make at least 100 catches on each day of practice, spending lots of time working with the JUGS passing machine.

“Glover put me on it,” Slay said of the plan. “He had, what, 15 picks in three years? So, obviously it works.”

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Quin has 14 interceptions in his three seasons with the Lions. Slay has four picks in his three seasons with the Lions, catching two in each of the past two seasons.

Slay has posted 30 passes defensed the past two seasons, a sign that he’s breaking up plenty of balls. Dipping from 17 in 2014 to 13 in 2015 is probably a result of teams throwing away from him during the second half of last season.

“You want him to be able to intercept those plays that he’s really close, make those turnovers, because he can do that,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He’s got the ability to cover people so tight that now if he starts taking the ball away, they won’t even throw it at him.”

Had he caught more interceptions last season, Slay thinks he’d already be considered a top-five cornerback. But looking ahead to the season, he isn’t setting a goal for picks.

“I don’t need to no numbers, man,” he said. “I’m just going to be blessed … and fortunate with however many I catch. Shoot, if I catch 15, I might run out of the building.”