The Lions are hoping the new defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin, will be a huge impact on the way Darius Slay perfroms. They’re looking forward to a massive improvement in his development as a cornerback.
Darius Slay didn’t have the most impressive rookie season with a fair amount of ups and downs on the field.
Darius Slay was a second-round pick, sitting at number 36 overall. He began the season as a starter opposite Chris Houston. Veteran Rashean Mathis stepped in to replace Slay in his first two starts. Slay eventually lost the starting cornerback position in week 3.
On Thanksgiving, Slay got another chance to start against the Packers. Houston was out due to an injury and Slay played his best game yet in the NFL. He defended three passes and recorded two tackles.
That’s the perfect performance a rookie needs to gain his confidence. Perhaps it may have been wasted due to missing a few weeks from an injury. Slay suffered a knee injury in practice a few days after his well performance and he was unable to return until Week 17 in Minnesota.
Slay is expected to devolop a lot during the offseason. The Lions see a lot of ability in his performance and when he enters his second season, they expect nothing less than performances much like the Thanksgiving game.
“I think we have some good young pieces,” Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “You know, as we watched the tape, one of the young guys, (Darius) Slay, I looked at him and you go, ‘Boy, he had his ups and downs.’
“You know, he had some things, he had some growing pains. There were some times he didn’t look very good and there were some times he looked outstanding.
“Our goal is to try to get him to be consistent, to be a consistent player. That way, that talent will start to take over, but I think he’s a guy that has the ability out there and we probably want to try to improve. But we want to improve in all areas.”
Austin spent the last three season in Baltimore as the defensive backs coach. He compared Darius Slay to Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. Smith was a first round pick, overall number 27, of the 2011 Draft, selected by the Ravens. Smith has great size and speed, much like Slay but coming out of college, Smith definitley had room to improve. That’s how Slay has been viewed and that’s something they are striving to fix.
It took Smith two season to be a part of the starting lineup in Baltimore. In 2013, his first full season as a starter, he recorded 59 tackles, 2 interceptions, defended 16 passes and forced 3 fumbles.
“He was a lot like Darius,” Austin said of Smith. “He kind of flashed and has some tremendous talent. He would flash, but he didn’t quite play as consistently as you’d like. But then he finally, like a lot of them, sometimes it just clicks.”
“It takes reps, it takes time, and when it does, he starts improving in certain areas and everything else picks up. That’s the thing. We’ll work on Darius. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got a lot of room to improve and so we’ll try to just kind of improve on this area and this area and keep working the areas. Hopefully the improvement will show and he’ll be able to play an important part for us this year.”
By the looks of it, the Lions want Slay to be a starter and will give him every chance possible to earn that position next season.
If Slay makes this big improvement to tarnish his inconsistencies, much like Smith did, the Lions will become a lot stronger in the pass defense.