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NOTEBOOK: Slay reacts to Pro Bowl nomination

Cornerback Darius Slay is happy to be making a return trip to Orlando and the Pro Bowl in 2019.

“It felt good,” Slay said Wednesday of hearing he made the Pro Bowl again. “Let’s me know folks are watching film and understanding. I’m excited.”

Slay is the first Lions cornerback to be chosen for the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons since Dre Bly in 2003 and 2004. Slay and Bly join Lem Barney (1975-76; 1972-73) as the only Lions defensive backs to make the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons since the 1970 merger.

He earned his first Pro Bowl nod and All Pro selection last season after leading the league with eight interceptions and 26 passes defended. Slay has three interceptions through 14 games this year, and his 15 passes defended are third most in the NFL behind only Kyle Fuller (21) and Stephon Gilmore (18).

The stats aren’t the same as they were last year when Slay earned his first Pro Bowl nod, so his inclusion this year speaks to the reputation he’s earned among his fellow peers and coaches, and how his play doesn’t always show up in the stat book but does show up on film.

“My play has been good,” Slay said. “Other than (the lack of picks), I’ve played pretty well. Competing all the time at a high level. I’ve been really clamping. Most of the time I have to go where the best guy goes. Competing at a high level. Making plays on some of the top guys in this league. I put in a lot of work to deserve this kind of achievement.”

He’s totaled 11 interceptions the past two seasons, tied for the most by a cornerback in that span.

Slay said he’s looking forward to a return trip to the Pro Bowl, but not as much as his kids.

“My kids are already hyped up,” he said. “You all haven’t seen the dance but it’s on my story. The ‘daddy to the Pro Bowl dance.’ They are ready. They’re already packed. It’s really because of Disney. They get a free Disney trip.”

The Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 27 in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

AGNEW RETURNS TO ROSTER

It seems so long ago now that Lions cornerback and All-Pro return man Jamal Agnew was injured defending a deep pass Week 5 against Green Bay. Agnew suffered a knee injury and was placed on IR with the designation to return.

That time to return is here, as Agnew was activated to the 53-man roster Wednesday to take the place of running back Kerryon Johnson, who was also sent to IR with a knee injury.

Agnew was Detroit’s primary nickel cornerback before being injured. It will be interesting to see if he regains those duties in the slot and if the Lions bump Nevin Lawson back outside for the remaining two games of the season, or if they work Agnew back in slowly. Lawson moved inside after Agnew was injured, but has played most of his career on the outside.

“I think in the beginning part of the year and really through the spring, there was a lot of growth and a lot of development there, not only in special teams but on defense, which was great to see,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Agnew.

“He was someone that was helping us win early in the season and put us in a situation to at least be competitive, and that was good. He’ll be up working this week to see where he’s at. He obviously hasn’t played football in a long time, so we can’t really make any predictions there until we get a chance to take a look at it.”

Agnew’s biggest impact, however, could come on special teams returning kicks. He’s dynamic in that role, even though the numbers this year don’t show it because he had some good returns called back by penalty.

Agnew was listed as a limited participant at practice Wednesday.

JOHNSON TO IR

With the playoffs out of the picture, the Lions made the choice Wednesday to sit Johnson the rest of the season. The team placed Johnson on injured reserve, ending his rookie season.

A second-round pick out of Auburn, Johnson leads the Lions in rushing this season with 641 yards (5.4 average) and three touchdowns in 10 games. He also became the first Lions running back to rush for 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush back in 2013. He had two 100-yard rushing performances on the year – 101 yards vs. New England and 158 vs. Miami. He also caught 32 passes for another 213 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing at the time of his injury. He hurt his left knee late in the third quarter of the Week 11 matchup vs. Carolina while being tackled out of bounds.

Johnson joins fellow offensive starters T.J. Lang, Marvin Jones Jr. and Michael Roberts on IR.

FULLBACK IN THE MAKING?

Offensive lineman Joe Dahl had never played fullback in his life before the Lions asked him to fill in for the injured Nick Bellore a couple weeks ago.

Dahl has done a nice job in that role, and in his role as an extra lineman in certain packages. The 305-pound Dahl says he’s especially liked the opportunity to play fullback.

“It just reminds me a lot of playing on the wedge in kickoff return,” Dahl said. “It’s definitely fun having a little head start at it and I’ve been enjoying it the last couple weeks.”

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