LIONS INSIDER

Antonio Brown presents an unusual challenge for Darius Slay

Posted Aug 9, 2016

Going against wide receiver Antonio Brown in joint practices with the Steelers will be an invaluable experience for cornerback Darius Slay.

Latrobe, PA -- Darius Slay spent the first three years of his NFL career lined up across from Calvin Johnson most days at practice. Let's just say Slay was challenged from Day 1 in the NFL.

During Tuesday’s joint practice with the Steelers at their training camp facility outside of Pittsburgh, Slay was presented with a whole new set of challenges lining up across from All-Pro Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.

Brown, who stands 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, is one of the quickest and fastest receivers in the game.

“It’s a big difference because I can get my hands on Calvin,” Say said after Tuesday’s practice. “That little guy there (Brown) is shifty. You can’t be messing with him at the line of scrimmage. He’s very crafty at the line of scrimmage and he trusts his speed.”

Slay found that out the hard way in some one-on-one drills against Brown, who beat Slay for a touchdown on two of their three reps. Slay help up a little better in some of the team portions as Brown wasn’t a prominent target in those portions of practice.

Slay, who signed a new contract extension with the Lions this offseason, will have an opportunity to go up against one of the game's best for two practice days Tuesday and Wednesday. The two aren’t expected to see a whole lot of time against each other in Friday’s preseason opener. The starters usually only see a series or two in that game.

“It’s only going to get me better, you know?” Slay said. “I’ve never seen that kind of guy in my division. Nobody’s 5-9 and shifty and a big-time player.”

Brown tied for the NFL lead last season with 136 receptions, and finished second with 1,834 receiving yards. Brown has caught 375 passes over the past three seasons, the most in NFL history over any three-year span.

“Every week you’re going to face a different style of a guy who performs extremely well,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of the Slay vs. Brown matchup at practice Tuesday.

“He’s a talented guy that has speed to burn, so it was a great matchup, because those are the kind of guys that we’re going to face week in and week out.

“He presents a very, very unusual challenge for (Slay). He’s a guy that’s fast, he’s quick, extremely smart guy just in terms of understanding how he disrupts the coverage techniques and defenders.”

Brown is one of the best in the business, and that makes these two practices vs. the Steelers invaluable for someone like Slay, whose play is on an upward ascension in this league. Brown got the best of Slay Tuesday. What will Wednesday bring?

“It was a great matchup,” Slay said. “Fast, shifty little short guy. Great competitor. I love it. I told him to stop pushing me off, though.

“We getting that work in. I love the game he’s got. He’s a very competitive guy. He’s one of the best in the business right now.”