LIONS INSIDER

Darius Slay, Lions embracing new defense

Posted May 21, 2014

There was definitely a different enthusiasm level with the Lions defense during the first OTA practice open to the media on Wednesday.

There was definitely a different enthusiasm level with the Lions defense during the first OTA practice open to the media in its entirety on Wednesday.

Caldwell and AustinJim Caldwell and Teryl Austin (Photo: Detroit Lions)

The defense was excited and they were vocal, especially when a couple of interceptions, one from Matthew Stafford and one from Dan Orlovsky, went the other way for touchdowns.

“The guys kind of got into it,” head coach Jim Caldwell said after Wednesday's practice. “A competitive atmosphere I think is something that we try and foster with some boundaries.”

The defensive sideline was pumped up today during 11-on-11 drills and cornerback Darius Slay says guys on the field fed off of it.

“It’s a different feel,” Slay said. “Everyone out there is enjoying it. We’re embracing the new coaches and taking it in. It’s a new season for us so we’re trying to start it the right way.”

Speaking of embracing things, Slay says Teryl Austin’s more aggressive defense is tailor-made for his game.

“You can just see it,” Slay said of his early comfort level in the defense. “Even when you’re off the ball, it’s still man. I know when training camp comes we’re going to be all up in (the receiver’s) faces every play.”

It’s certainly a brand of football that seems to fit Slay. He has good size at 6-foot, 192-pounds and possesses sub-4.4 speed. He’s at his best in man cover attached to a receiver.

“I like being up,” Slay said. “I’m not a big (back) pedal guy. I can pedal, I have a good, smooth back pedal, but when I’m on you, I’m on you.

“There are not too many guys that can run by me. The one thing I have to do is get more aggressive with big receivers.”

That will come with playing across Calvin Johnson more. As for the rest of it, Slay said this defense makes it much easier for the corners to make plays, which the Lions are counting on from him. He had an up and down rookie season, but came on strong at the end.

He’s projected to be one of the starting cornerbacks for the Lions Week 1 and an important piece of the puzzle on that side of the ball.