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O'HARA: Slay focused on teammates, leadership role in return to Lions

Darius Slay was as upbeat as ever on the first day of training camp.

There were no obvious lingering hard feelings on the part of the Detroit Lions' Pro Bowl cornerback, who reported to camp on time Wednesday after staying away from the offseason workouts.

Asked what impact his absence, and the reasons that caused it, would have on his play, Slay replied pointedly:

"Impact nothing. I'm going out there to dominate. I play for the name on the back of my jersey – and this organization, and my teammates."

Slay did not participate in Thursday's first practice. The Lions placed him on the Active/Non-Football Injury list with teammates Damon Harrison Sr. and Darius Kilgo. The NFI designation allows players to work on their own with the training and conditioning staff.

Slay responded with "next question" to most specific questions about his absence, but he spoke at length about his goals and his connection with his teammates.

Slay said he enjoyed spending time with his family while remaining in close contact with his teammates.

"It was cool," he said of being at home. "It wasn't that big of a deal. I was here in Detroit. Guys came over to the house … I was cooking crab legs. We kick it. It's a business. So, it's all good.

"These are my guys. They're my brothers. We're friends outside of this work. We're all good.

"I had a lot of fun with my kids, -- travelled a lot more. Living, actually."

As Slay prepares for his seventh season, all with the Lions since being drafted in the second round in 2013, his career has blossomed at a point which should be his prime seasons.

He was first team All-Pro in 2017 with a career-high eight interceptions, tying Titans safety Kevin Byard for the league lead. Slay had three picks last season – returning one for a touchdown in a road win over Arizona – and 17 passes defensed.

Slay expects interceptions to take care of themselves.

"That's going to come," he said. "If I get there, I get there."

His goal is to take over a leadership role held by safety Glover Quin, who retired in the offseason.

The Lions have had turnover in the secondary since the end of last season. In addition to Quin, Nevin Lawson, the starter at cornerback opposite Slay most of the last four seasons, was released in March and signed by the Raiders.

Among the veteran free agents signed in the offseason are cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman, and safety Andrew Adams. Safety Will Harris and cornerback Amani Oruwariye were added in the draft.

"Be a better leader … be more vocal with the guys," Slay said of his goal for this season. "Helping these guys be better than I am. That's my goal my goal right now, is to get these guys to my level or exceed it. If I don't, I'll feel like kind of a failure.

"I want these guys to be great like I am."

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