NOTEBOOK: Slay bounces back, Young back to sacking and Burleson's pledge

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Rookie CB Darius Slay turns in a solid performance after a tough outing last week vs. New England

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has been yelling it for the last week.

"Locate the ball," he's been screaming to his defensive backs when balls are in the air in practice.

Too many times in the first couple preseason games, Lions defensive backs were in good position to make a play on the football but didn't locate the ball or read the receiver's body language to make a play on them when the ball got there.

That's why Schwartz must have been happy in the first quarter when he saw rookie cornerback Darius Slay stay step-for-step with one of the fastest players in the league – Marquise Goodwin – on a fade route down the sideline and at the last minute locate the ball and knock it away for an incompletion.

It was really the only time Slay was challenged on the night. He's locked down the starting right cornerback spot opposite Chris Houston and he'll be in there when it starts counting Sept. 8 vs. Minnesota.

Slay was picked on a little bit last week by Tom Brady and Co., but came back with a very good game Thursday. He was sound in his technique and physical at the line of scrimmage.

"Now I'm ready for the real season," Slay said after the Lions, 35-13, win.

"(My confidence level) is always going to stay high. It'll never go down. I'm a real confident guy about what I do and how I prepare for games and I'm ready."


It was back.

Willie Young was fishing for quarterbacks and reeling them in Thursday in Buffalo. Casting out a fake lure and reeling it in has been his sack celebration since joining the Lions as a seventh-round pick in 2010.

Young casted his line out twice Thursday after recording two sacks. But the sacks weren't the most impressive play Young made on the night, according to Schwartz.

"I think the most impressive thing that Willie did was he walked away from a shot he took," Schwartz said. "I thought that showed major improvement for him."

Remember that it was just a week ago that Schwartz benched Young after a taunting penalty vs. New England.

It was good to see the production and the control from the talented defensive end.


Nate Burleson was mad at himself in the locker room after the game and he had reason to be.

It was his drop on the Lions' first possession that led to an interception.

Burleson was running a slant route and let a Matthew Stafford pass deflect off his hands and wind up in the hands of Bills linebacker Marcus Dowtin

Burleson owned up to the drop when talking to the media in the locker room, but made a public declaration on his Twitter account for the upcoming season.

"4 yrs as a Lion...droppin the ball isn't me!" he wrote. "Won't happen again & if it does, I'll donate 100 for each drop to a different elementary school."


Calvin JohnsonThough he didn't play, WR Calvin Johnson goes through a pregame workout at Buffalo. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

The Lions were without a number of key starters in the preseason finale.

Running back Reggie Bush and receiver Calvin Johnson both got the night off, as did receiver Ryan Broyles, running back Montell Owens and tight end Michael Williams on the offensive side of the ball.

On defense, both starting safeties Louis Delmas and Glover Quin sat. Delmas played 16 snaps last week in his preseason debut vs. New England, but the Lions have been very careful through training camp not to overdue it with that sore left knee.

Starting defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Ziggy Ansah also did not play. Suh has been limited in practice since the New England game with an undisclosed injury, but did get a nice workout in on the field before the game.

Safety John Wendling was also out.

Schwartz said after the game that Ansah and two other players didn't even make the trip to Buffalo.