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Big Play Slay set for Eagles debut on Sunday

First things, first: He's either "Slay," or "Big Play Slay."

"Darius" is reserved for his grandmother, and that's just the way it is. This is not a joke in any way. His dad is "Darius." Our guy, our cornerback, he's "Slay."

"Everyone calls him 'Slay,'" says defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, a teammate of Slay's at Mississippi State for a season. "He's a unique guy."

And he's a unique talent preparing to make his Eagles debut on Sunday at Washington (FOX, 1 PM, FedEx Field).

"I feel comfortable communicating. The guys have been doing a great job helping me learn the defense the best way they can and I am fitting right in," Slay said on Thursday in a teleconference with reporters. "It's kind of basic as in, line up in front of the guy you're in front of and compete and that's what football is all about – just line up in front of a guy and dominate the guy. We leave the coaching scheme up to coach and other than that, I look at the game like, line up and beat the guy in front of you.

"It's feels great. New atmosphere, new everything. I'm loving it. Some of these guys, I've known them from being in the league so long, I knew some of the guys and watched them play, watched some of these guys' film, stole some of their techniques. It's good to finally work with some new guys and go out and compete."

All eyes will be on No. 24 on Sunday and his presence in a secondary that gave up way too many big plays in the passing game in 2019. Slay, who has been a Pro Bowl player in each of the last three season when he played with Detroit, could – or could not – shadow Washington's second-year receiver Terry McLaurin, who last season caught 10 passes (on 12 targets) for 255 yards and two touchdowns. In the game Slay played against McLaurin last year, the stat total was 12 targets that netted five receptions and 72 yards, mostly in man-on-man situations.

How the Eagles play it on Sunday is a mystery, but as it unfolds we're all going to be grading the performance: The Eagles could have, with Slay, their best cornerback in many years, dating back beyond Asante Samuel, a three-time Pro Bowl player as an Eagle, beyond Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown – all the way back to Troy Vincent, a member of the organization's Hall of Fame. To be that guy, Slay has to be as close to a shutdown cornerback in a league that favors the offense and the wide receivers in a heavily slanted way.

Slay, though, doesn't feel the pressure.

"Nah, I think a lot of teams would be excited for me to be on their team," he said. "I think I've got a good characteristic. I think I'm a cool guy. I think I'm a nice, fun guy. On the field, it's not pressure for me. I just like to play the game. What makes me a good guy on the field is the fact that I compete every play. I give it my all and I just do my best to win. Like I said when I first got here, the Eagles got a guy who is going to go out there and work hard and do what he can do to help the team win."

Slay has put in the extra time with conditioning work after practice, working on technique with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and spending more time studying film and making sure that he's got it all down pat in terms of assignment, communication, and technique. By 1 PM on Sunday, Slay is going to be a bundle of energy. He's going to go out and have a blast.

All he has to do is win against receivers. As much of the time as possible.

"I want to compete and get the job done and handle it," Slay said. "Whatever the coach needs me to do, I'll do it. At the end of the day, I'm out there to do a job and do it at the highest level I can."

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