Allen Park — Darius Slay isn’t one to rest on his laurels.
The Detroit Lions cornerback, coming off his first All-Pro season, has always been one to use his offseasons to get better.
After his rookie year, he traveled to California to work with Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson, staying in his home for five days. In subsequent offseasons, after Woodson took a coaching job with the Raiders, Slay would often work out with veteran teammates Rashean Mathis and Glover Quin.
But this year, Slay switched it up when he received an invite to attend an exclusive summit of some of the league’s best players at his position that was put together by 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
“It’s just a little thing that we all wanted to do, some of the top guys in the league trying to help each other get better every day,” Slay said. “We ain’t going against each other, so whatever we can do to help each other reach that next level.”
The concept isn’t new. Many of the league’s top quarterbacks, including Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, work together at 3DQB with renowned guru Tom House each offseason. And Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald runs a camp for his peers in Minnesota
According to Slay, there were six or seven cornerbacks in attendance at the Stanford University gathering, including Minnesota's Xavier Rhodes, Los Angeles Rams' Aqib Talib, San Francisco's Ahkello Witherspoon and Sherman. The group split time between watching each other on film, explaining their approach and techniques, and sharing drills on the field to improve those techniques.
Slay said he spent a lot of time picking Sherman’s brain about how he defends deep passes and fade routes, while sharing some of his strategies of reading routes with the others.
The plan is for Sherman’s summit to expand and become an annual event.
“Watching film with other guys, seeing how they looked at it, how I look at it, working on some press work, different techniques at the line of scrimmage, a lot of good stuff,” Slay said. “It was really good. We’re going to continue to do that every year. I feel like I’m way better.”