ALLEN PARK — Safety Glover Quin has been at Darius Slay’s side for five years. Pushing the young Lions’ cornerback, teaching him, guiding him even off the field and, at times, laughing at him.
“Slay is always cracking us up. Always,’’ Quin said on Wednesday.
It’s been an ongoing growth process between the master and student.
“It’s been extremely helpful, and I think it’s kind of a two-way street. No. 1, it’s been great for (Slay) because Glover’s a great resource. He’s a guy that really does everything right. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but he’s disciplined, he’s dedicated, he’s smart, he’s tough. He works at it, and is a great family man and the whole bit,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said. “And Slay picked that up right away once he arrived here with him, once they got together I should say, and he’s gravitated toward him — goes down in the summertime and works out with him, stays at his house, and goes through his regimen with him.’’
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Still Quin can pinpoint one moment from three years ago that has been crucial in Slay’s success. It was in Week 6 of 2014 in a game at the Minnesota Vikings.
“We were up on them 17-3 at the end of the game, the game was basically over, we had played a pretty dominant game. You know how teams are at the end of the game, they’re trying to score. I think Slay had a series of plays where he missed a tackle on a tight end in the flat, he got a penalty, a little illegal contact, there were only two minutes left in the game,’’ Quin said.
“I went to him and told him, ‘I need you to stay locked in. You went from having a great game to the last minute now you’ve got a missed tackle, you’ve got a penalty, we have to stay locked in until the clock is over.’ Those are the situations where you make plays, you get an extra tackle, you get an extra pass breakup, you catch a pick like you did Sunday when they’re trying to score.’’
Indeed in the Lions’ 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Ford Field, Slay intercepted DeShone Kizer with 1:23 left.
“The thing about that happening in 2014, and you look at him Sunday in the same situation, down two touchdowns and they’re trying to move the ball down the field and he catches a pick to end the game. I think that’s growth you see that he’s made over these years, he’s become a great player,’’ Quin said.
Slay remembers that game in 2014 also.
“I flaked out. I was playing a lot and I didn’t give up a catch the whole game. At the end, there was a minute left, we’re up by 3, 2 touchdowns or so. First I got a penalty and then a dude caught a ball on me. (Quin) said, ‘Slay lock in.’ I think he wanted to cuss at me but he didn’t. After that I was like, ‘Oh man, we’re winning.’ It’s a different aspect from a guy playing that long he said anything can happen in that amount of time so I’m more locked in now I don’t play any more like that.
“I could’ve been chilling but I was not, I was locked in. Lesson learned, good lesson learned. I knew he was going to throw the ball and there was an opportunity for this pick so just add them up,’’ Slay said
It’s just one step in Slay’s growth into one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks.
It’s just taken him awhile to get recognition from around the league. It’s what he needs to get to the Pro Bowl.
“I mean I think so, my numbers say (I belong). I lead in pass breakups and picks as a corner. Somebody has got to tell me something different. I travel against the No. 1 guys, I follow them, I don’t hide from nobody. I think that’s what a No. 1 corner is supposed to do, some guys are good at doing their thing, I went against all the best ones so far and I held my own,’’ Slay said.
There is one matter between the two. After 10 games, Slay has four interceptions and Quin is one behind with three.
“There’s not a personal wager, but if I catch one Sunday and we’re four apiece I think we can make a little wager for the next six games and see what happens,’’ Quin said.
It would kind of be perfect if the two were both sent to the Pro Bowl.
Quin was selected in 2014, Slay is still waiting for his first trip.
“In my eyes yes, I’ve put up a lot of good film for the past 3 years to be in there. It’d be crazy if I don’t, definitely this year,’’ Slay said.
Caldwell doesn’t want to get into a Pro Bowl discussion, it’s not his style.
“Those things are things that I think all of our guys, they’re secondary to what their real purpose is. Their purpose is to win games. The more games you win, the better opportunity you’re going to have to get some sort of recognition,’’ Caldwell said. “But the most important thing is that we’re winning games. That’s what we set out to do. That’s what our goal is, and I think he’s been playing extremely well. I still think he’s got a lot of upside just because of his skill set and his ability. And I think all in all, recognition will come in due time.”