Why Darius Slay Might Not Shadow Odell Beckham Jr.
By: Will Burchfield
Like bread on butter, Darius Slay on Odell Beckham Jr. seems like a perfect match.
But the Lions may not put their best cornerback on the Giants' best receiver on Sunday - not exclusively, at least.
"You can throw other people out of position if you do that because Beckham lines up all over the place, he doesn't just line up outside," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "He lines up inside, outside, he moves left, right, so that would require somebody to learn a lot of different positions."
A showdown with Beckham would figure to be something Slay would relish. The fourth-year pro is in the midst of a terrific season, arguably the best of his career, and has experience shadowing the opposition's No. 1 receiver.
"He loves challenges," Austin said. "When Beckham lines up to his side, he'll take on that challenge. When he doesn't, he'll take on the challenge of the person that's in front of him, which is another good receiver - either (Victor) Cruz or (Sterling) Shepard."
If Austin and the Lions have determined their game plan for covering Beckham, the defensive coordinator wouldn't say on Thursday. That could all be gamesmanship, of course, but it bears mention that Beckham's style of play can make it difficult for a corner to shadow him - or "travel with him," as the Lions say - across the field.
"Again, Odell's a little different because he's inside, outside. A lot of times when we travel, (when) we're able to travel, a guy stays outside most of the time. Makes it a little bit easier," Austin said.
On Wednesday, Slay downplayed a potential matchup with Beckham, suggesting he treats every receiver, every assignment, the same.
"I'm up every week - up. I'm up, up, up, ain't matter who the guy in front of me is," Slay said. "It's not going to change my style of play."
He added later, "Whatever my coach wants me to do, I'm doing it and I'm doing it to my best ability. Like I said, whatever that game plan is, I'm with it."
(If the two stars do lock horns, don't expect Slay to engage Beckham in any kind of trash talk. But the wise-cracking corner may tell him a few jokes.)
No matter who covers Beckham on Sunday, be it a one-man job or a team effort, the Lions know they need to limit his big plays. Beckham leads the NFL in receptions of 40 yards or more.
"He's like a video game, I tell you," Austin said. "Sometimes you look at it and you go, 'Well he shouldn't be able to get by, these are NFL guys,' and you've seen him make this play and he gets by him, so he's a special talent.
"He's been doing this for the last three years, so I don't think anybody underestimates him. I just think that he's a special player and we've got to make sure that we try to contain him the best we can, that he doesn't have those breakouts."
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