Allen Park – Darius Slay said Friday that he’s glad to play in a division with such players as Minnesota’s Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, along with Sunday’s possible Pro Bowl counterpart.
The Lions Pro Bowl cornerback sounded like a player ready for a rematch with Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, who is questionable with a knee injury.
“Last one of the year, just gonna go out there and compete,” Slay said. “It should be fun to play at a high level.”
Adams had a nine-catch, 140-yard day against Slay in Detroit’s 31-23 home win in Week 5. The 12-yard touchdown and 99 of the yards came against Slay, according to Pro Football Focus.
That success has carried over throughout the season for Adams, who caught a 16-yard touchdown from Rodgers last week to top the New York Jets 44-38 in overtime, clinching last place for the Lions in the NFC North.
The 2014 second-round pick out of Fresno State has career highs this season with 111 receptions, 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns, sitting in the league’s top five in all those categories.
Adams needs two catches Sunday to break Sterling Sharpe’s single-season franchise record of 112 receptions set in 1993. If Adams gets 134 receiving yards, he’ll break Jordy Nelson’s franchise record of 1,519 set in 2014.
Slay said Adams, who turned 26 on Christmas Eve, excels with defensive players up on the line of scrimmage against him. And, of course, it helps to have Green Bay’s other Pro Bowler, Aaron Rodgers, throwing the ball.
“He’s probably one of the best releases in press,” Slay said. “Then, you know, he has a great quarterback where he can put it for him where only he can catch it.”
Slay intercepted Brett Hundley in last season’s finale, his only interception in 11 career games against the Packers.
Rodgers, the NFL’s all-time leader in career interception rate at 1.5 percent, has had a hand in many of Adams’ 35 touchdowns since 2016, the league’s most in that span.
“They’re a good team, a good duo,” Slay said. “They’re playing at a high level right now with (Adams’) best year.
“I’m happy for him, but we’re going out there ready to compete though.”
Slay said he and Adams have exchanged phone numbers in the past, and he hopes to have his number on the field Sunday.
“I’m hyped up more because it’s a division game,” Slay said. “I like when guys in my division are one of the top guys at their position, so I can go against them twice a year. Makes me a better player.”
Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said the marching orders for Slay or whoever is matched up against Adams sound very simple, but aren’t.
“You want to just try and stay in front of him,” Pasqualoni said. “You’re just trying to make him change direction, restart the route, alter the stem and all those other things.
“That’s what you try to do. It’s hard to do it.”
Lions coach Matt Patricia said, despite tough results last time for Slay, he expects the best from his Pro Bowl cornerback Sunday, although he would not disclose how much they actually go head to head.
“The great thing about Slay is that he has that toughness to go out and compete and go and kind of a little bit of that corner mentality where, ‘Alright, you got me once, but I’m going to get you the next time,’” Patricia said. “And you just keep battling back and forth. “So, we’re just talking about two great players.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.