It’s time to see what an elite corner looks like.
When asked if he’ll be traveling with Washington receiver Terry McLaurin on Sunday, Darius Slay wasn’t letting any secrets out. He said he’ll do whatever the coaches tell him to do. And whatever they ask, he’s up for it.
But the Eagles are about to play a Washington team with a budding star in McLaurin, who is clearly their top receiver.
In two games against the Eagles last year, McLaurin had 10 catches for 255 yards and two long touchdowns.
This is why the Eagles traded for Slay. This is why they paid him big money. It’s time for him to go out and earn it.
Slay, 29, has traveled with top receivers before and that ability is one of the things that really made him an attractive target for the Eagles. While Jim Schwartz hasn’t used any corners in that way during his first four years in Philly, he also hasn’t had one of Slay’s caliber. Earlier this offseason, even Schwartz confirmed Slay would travel at times.
Sunday is as good a time as any.
Because McLaurin is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he caught 58 passes for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s super fast and appears to be ready to take yet another jump in his career.
On Thursday, Slay was asked how much his voice will be heard when it comes to deciding whether or not he’ll travel.
“I think [Schwartz will] hear it loud and clear,” Slay said. “He’s an understanding coach, and he knows I want to compete, so if it ever boils down to it, I’ll go there to it and just say ‘Hey, coach, I want to do this, I want to do that.’ I think he’d believe and trust in me to get the job done and handle it.
“We have a great mutual understanding on what needs to be done, and I’m a firm believer in teamwork, whatever the coach needs me to do, I’ll do it. Even if I want to go against the best, if he feels like this is what’s best for the team, 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.”
If Schwartz really does listen to Slay, we’re going to see the Eagles’ CB1 follow a lot of top receivers this season. That’s a responsibility Slay relishes.
Back in April, Slay said he loves the challenge of trying to shut down the opponent’s top receiver. He wants the game to be on him.
Even though McLaurin is just going into Year 2, he already has Slay’s respect. The two faced off last year and Slay said McLaurin was the second-hardest receiver challenge he faced in 2019 after Keenan Allen. In the Lions-Washington Week 12 matchup last year, with Slay on him, McLaurin caught 3 passes on 10 targets for 42 yards with 1 drop and a Slay PBU.
So the numbers weren’t great, but Slay saw McLaurin’s talent close up.
“I just know what type of player he is and how talented he is as a young guy,” Slay said. “Like I said, I think he’s a very talented guy, he can stretch the field, he’s good at it and he competes every play. That’s what I learned about him mostly, during the game and then watching him this offseason."
If Slay travels, that also means Avonte Maddox and possibly even Nickell Robey-Coleman have to be ready to move around the field too.
Maddox said he’s ready to move from side to side on Sunday. And when asked if he thinks teams will throw at him more to avoid Slay, he said he would “gladly accept that challenge.”
As a rookie, McLaurin averaged 15.8 yards per catch and caught three passes of 40-plus yards. He’s a true deep threat.
But at least Slay got some practice against speed this summer. He worked daily against DeSean Jackson, who, even at 33, can still fly.
“[Jackson] helped me a lot this year, man,” Slay said. “Practicing my deep balls and running with guys because most of the guys I follow or whatever I do (there) will still be fast guys. So if I’m keeping up with him, that’s a good thing."
On Sunday, Slay will have to worry about keeping up with McLaurin. It’s a good first test and a good chance for Eagles fans to see an elite corner again.