Eagles CB Darius Slay explains how his practice reps against Antonio Brown prepared him for Diontae Johnson in Week 8
Eagles CB Darius Slay is one of top defensive backs in all of football. Regardless of which receiver he lines up against, Big Play Slay more often than not brings his A-game.
When his team faced off against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Slay had his work cut out for him. Despite the Steelers’ many flaws, they have one of the better WR trios in the game. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and rookie George Pickens are all explosive playmakers and bring something different to the table, making it even more difficult to game plan for them.
During his “Big Play Slay” segment with The Volume, Darius Slay shared some insight into how he prepared for his latest test against Pittsburgh.
Darius Slay on his preparation for the Diontae Johnson matchup in Week 8
Back when Darius Slay was a member of the Detroit Lions secondary, his former team held joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was before Johnson was on the roster, but they did have another explosive wideout on their roster at the time, Antonio Brown. Slay matched up against Brown all throughout those practices and managed to pick up on some of the team’s tendencies.
Above all else, Slay noticed how often the Steelers like to send their receivers on go routes. When preparing for his matchup with Pittsburgh last week, he noticed the same tendency when studying Johnson on tape.
“We [Slay and Brown] did a couple of one-on-ones, went back and forth,” Darius Slay said when speaking about his joint practice sessions with the Steelers a few years back. “We did eight go balls in a row. So from my understanding, this team loves go balls. As I watched the film preparing for this week, I saw the same thing on film. That’s what [the Steelers] are making Diontae Johnson like. They make him like an AB type of guy.”
Slay’s preparation paid off. He was targeted twice when covering Johnson and surrendered just one reception for six yards.
“They like to isolate [Johnson] on routes,” Slay continued. “Every time he came over there, I had in my mind, ‘You are like the new AB right now. You’re going deep, for sure.’ I’m gonna be a short to deep guy this week. As I’m going out there approaching the field, that’s how I played it.”
He almost had an interception when covering Johnson too, due in large part to the film study he put in during the week.
“I should have picked it,” Slay said. “[Johnson] ran a stop… You know Pickett rolling, so I see him rolling out of the corner of my eye. I said, ‘He gotta be sitting down, Slay.’ Bam, he sat down, broke on it, and he turned to a DB on me.”
It would have been Slay’s fourth interception of the year had he come down with it, which would have been the second-most interceptions he’s recorded in a single season during his career. With ten games remaining on the schedule, I’m willing to bet he snags a fourth INT before the regular season concludes.
Every aspiring cornerback should take notes on how Slay approaches the game from a mental standpoint. He may not be as athletic as he was in his 20s, but the mental side of the game is just as important, especially for a cornerback.
Slay’s team will have a short turnaround this week as the Eagles prepare to travel to Houston to take on the Texans under the Thursday night lights.
More on the Eagles
- Eagles Week 8 PFF grades >>
- AJ Brown drug tested after dominant performance on Sunday >>
- Eagles open up as two-touchdown favorites over Houston this week >>
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