Darius Slay Wants to Serve on Lions Special Teams

Darius Slay

Getty Darius Slay celebrates after a big play.

Darius Slay plays an elite cornerback for the Detroit Lions, but there is something he’s always wanted to experience that he’s never gotten to in the league and that’s the feeling of breaking a big return for a score.

Slay, who turns in big plays at cornerback, has always wanted to try being a punt returner in the league, even if he has never gotten the chance. Recently, he talked about why he craves a look as a return man thanks to the fact that he’s done it before and done it well.

Here’s a look at what Slay said this week to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press about his desire to show off a hidden talent in the future:

“I’ve been trying to get back there to return punts for the longest,” Slay said. “They be hating on me. Yeah, I’m the G.O.A.T. back there.”

Slay has never returned a punt in his seven NFL seasons and he played exclusively as a defensive back and on kick- and punt-return coverage at Mississippi State.

At Itawamba (Miss.) Community College, however, Slay was a first-team all-state kick returner as well as a star defensive back.

“I got tubs” — touchdowns — “from juco all day,” Slay said. “Google me.”

Asked to describe his return abilities, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback said, “G.O.A.T.-ish.”

“Put it like that,” Slay said. “I might have lost my return skills since I ain’t been having the ball in my hands so much. I was used to having the ball in my hands a lot. Now, I probably done lost a little step, my agility, but I’ll get it back.”

Fellow cornerback Jamal Agnew is one of the best returners in the league, and it’s likely Slay sees Agnew breaking off big plays and wants to try his hand as well, especially given what he has done in the past in the role.

Darius Slay a big Play Player

Slay has been elite since being a second round draft pick of the Lions back in 2013, and has developed into one of the elite shut down corners in the entire league. He’s also a star for the Lions in the community, and arguably, is one of the top faces of the franchise at this point in time.

This past offseason, Slay missed the OTA period for Detroit amid wanting a new contract. While the Lions haven’t worked anything out with him, they also haven’t closed the door on making his re-signing a priority in the future, meaning a trade is possible if the team wants to move on. Slay also had a strong reaction to the team dealing Quandre Diggs for a draft pick a few weeks back.

There’s simply no doubting the importance of him to the team in both the short and the long term.

Chances of Darius Slay as a Returner

Even though Slay wants to do it, don’t bet on the team using him much if at all in a return role. He’s one of the true lockdown corners in the league and teams don’t even bother throwing his direction. At a certain point, that is way too valuable to risk Slay with injury on the return unit.

How would Slay see the field as a return man? Likely in a scenario where the Lions were down multiple other options and it was an emergency. Slay might have all the talent to do it, but it might not be worth the extra wear and tear at this point in time on his body unless it’s an absolute emergency.

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