By: Will Burchfield
Darius Slay can't wait to take the field with D.J. Hayden, his newest teammate in the Lions secondary.
"Oh, man, that's my guy," said Slay, who trains with Hayden in Houston during the offseason. "Me and D.J. been cool since we been drafted and been training together since we've been drafted. I already know what he's capable of. I know what type of player he is and I know what type of work he puts in, because we put in the same type of work."
The two cornerbacks were drafted in 2013, Slay in the second round to the Lions, Hayden in the first round to the Raiders. After being dogged by injuries in Oakland, missing 19 games over four underwhelming seasons, Hayden signed a one-year deal with the Lions in March.
Slay feels Hayden, listed at 5'11, 190 pounds, can add another dynamic to Detroit's secondary.
"More size to us, little bigger. He's a little taller than (Nevon Lawson). And a competitive edge," said Slay. "Everybody likes to compete, we just want to compete to make everybody better."
Slay noted that Hayden also does some offseason training with Lions safety Glover Quinn.
"He knows what we're going to bring to the table and he knows how we work, so he's just going to come in and see if he can fit in," Slay said. "Only thing we worry about now is just when he gets on the field with us. But we know what kind of effort he's going to put in."
The Lions secondary struggled in 2016, allowing 33 touchdowns and a league-worst 106.5 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. They also forced just 10 interceptions, tied for fourth fewest in the NFL.
Slay seized on the latter stat in explaining how the defense can improve in 2017.
"Just creating turnovers from everyone, not just from (certain) players but from everyone. We need to create more turnovers, get the offense more chances to score. I think we get Matt (Stafford) more chances to score, he'll put more points on the board," Slay said.
Slay and Quinn each had two interceptions in 2016, along with safeties Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush. There's a chance the Lions could try to upgrade their secondary in the upcoming draft, which features a number of talented defensive backs, several of whom have caught Slay's eye.
"I just like to look at the DB's and see what DB's are getting drafted. I just like to look at 'em, just admire some of 'em. Some of 'em are pretty nice this year, though. They got some good DB's in this draft," Slay said.
As to whether or not the Lions should draft accordingly, Slay said he has faith in general manger Bob Quinn.
"You really can't (have too many cornerbacks), but shoot, I'll leave that up to Bob. Whatever he does I know he's going to bring in someone to help us, so that's all I'm looking for. Ready to bring 'em in and let's get to work," said Slay.
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