How A.J. Brown can help a key defensive player improve too


Darius Slay has never played against A.J. Brown but he likes what he sees on tape.

And the Eagles’ veteran corner can’t wait to get on the field with his new Pro Bowl teammate.

Slay, 31, is a student of the game. He’s not too proud to learn from anyone. Just last year, we saw him and DeVonta Smith working together before, during and after practices, sharing tips. Slay hopes to have a similar relationship with Brown, whom the Eagles acquired last Thursday in a trade with the Titans. There’s plenty he can learn from the 24-year-old who has averaged nearly 1,000 yards per season in his young career.

“I got a lot of questions for him,” Slay said. “Besides playing with Calvin (Johnson), I never had another bigger receiver, big with a lot of physicality and all that stuff.

“So I just want to pick his brain about what he feels like when he sees a guy he’s bigger than, (more) muscular than, and how he attacks it. I’ll take it on from there.”

The Lions drafted Slay in the second round back in 2013 when Megatron was near the peak of his powers. They were teammates in Detroit for just three seasons before Johnson abruptly retired. But Slay clearly holds Johnson in reverence. He still uses some of those lessons today.

Last year, Slay explained to Terrell Owens how important those early battles with Johnson were in his development.

The addition of Brown will give him the chance to reconnect with a big and powerful receiver to get some tips in practice.

Slay and Smith, while they joked around with each other a ton last year, forged a strong. That bond helped both of them on the field.

“It helped me a lot,” Smith said of his 1-on-1 time with Slay as a rookie. “Obviously, Slay is a corner so he watches other corners. Just asking him how he thinks they play and things of that nature that he thinks works against them. It helped me a lot. It made things a lot easier for me.”

Slay has been in the NFL for nine seasons and has been teammates with several Pro Bowl receivers before: Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin. While Boldin and Jeffery were big-bodied targets, he played with each of them in the final years of their careers.

He’s looking forward to playing with a big receiver in his prime like Brown.

“Hearing all the offseason talk, everyone was saying we needed a bigger receiver, a physical one. We found a perfect match,” Slay said. “He’s a great guy. I ain’t never played against him but I’ve been watching his film. He’s aggressive, finish through catches, run through tackles. He’s like a running back when he gets the ball in his hands. Makes all the consistent catches.

“People probably look like he’s big and slow but on film I never seen him get ran down yet. That’s exciting. I’m expecting big plays from him.”

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