Missing last week's game in Arizona wasn't easy for cornerback Darius Slay, who did not make the trip as he recovered from a concussion suffered in the win over New Orleans. A competitor through and through who takes on the offense's top wide receiver every week, Slay fidgeted for three-plus hours watching the Eagles fight, but fall, to the Cardinals.
"It was rough, honestly," said Slay, who returned to practice this week and is on track to play in Dallas against the Cowboys' excellent, and deep, group of wide receivers. "I was trying my best to be there. Of course, it didn't pan out right, but I knew in that game I could have made a big difference. There were one or two plays that could have been a game-changer and I knew that me, being the kind of guy I am, would have made those type of plays.
"The guys (that played) competed, they got turnovers, they did a pretty good job, man. Just a little play here, a play there …"
Instead, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, and while he had a miscue on a pass that safety Marcus Epps intercepted in the end zone, Murray also completed 27 of 36 passes. That game is over and Slay and the secondary are on to the Dallas game and the challenge of playing against Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup – a prolific threesome at wide receiver.
The first time the Eagles played Dallas on November 1 in a 23-9 Eagles win, the Cowboys' passing game accounted for only 180 yards. That rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci was making his first NFL start had a lot to do with that, of course, but the Eagles also limited Cooper to one reception for 5 yards – with Slay in coverage – and Lamb managed just four receptions and 27 yards. Gallup led Dallas with seven catches for 61 yards on 12 targets.
"We did what we had to do – played ball and compete," Slay said. "Obviously, he (Amari Cooper) didn't have his guy, Dak (Prescott, starting Dallas quarterback who was injured and is out for the season). I would never give myself credit as winning because I want to go get the best and he didn't have his best (at quarterback). He's a talented guy. I look forward to always battling. He gets me better every day. I know my goal is to get him better. I'm going to continue to keep competing. I'm looking forward to the matchups."
Slay is helping coach up the young group of cornerbacks around him, including rookie Michael Jacquet, who Slay says "is learning well."
"I'm doing my best to help him. He's got a lot of potential – the right size, the right mindset to be one of the guys in the league."
Sunday is another test for the secondary, which is still minus starting cornerback Avonte Maddox and starting safety Rodney McLeod. No matter. Slay's return helps as the Eagles look to stay alive in the NFC East title picture.