Back in the spring and even early in training camp, we heard plenty about the high-level football conversations between Darius Slay and DeVonta Smith.
Those are still going on.
Even though Smith hasn’t practiced since Day 4 of training camp, he and Slay have continued to share tips. It’s just that now they’re doing it at walkthroughs.
“Of course,” Slay said. “That’s what makes him special. He knows how to take mental reps as a young guy. That’s a real [key] of the game because it’s a long season. A lot of times toward the end of the season, how practice goes, coach will kind of simmer it down a little bit and you gotta have mental reps.
“Walkthrough is mental reps. And he, as a young guy right now, understands mental reps.”
Slay, 30, has proven to be a valuable resource for a lot of his younger teammates, not just the ones on the defensive side of the ball.
Sure, fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson — Slay lovingly calls him “Rook” — has been learning a ton from the Eagles’ resident three-time Pro Bowl corner.
But the offensive guys are picking up tips too. Aside from Smith, first-string quarterback Jalen Hurts can learn from Slay and fellow veteran corner Steve Nelson.
“I think everybody on this team, we’re always trying to communicate with one another and pick each other’s brains so we can all grow,” Hurts said. “They’ll come to me and ask me what I saw, why did I throw this route, why did I take this shot or whatever it was. And I ask them the same thing. We just all build each other up.”
What exactly does Hurts ask the veteran corners?
“What are they seeing when they’re in this coverage? Where are y’all expecting the ball to go?” Hurts said. “Things like that. Just trying to grow.”
Slay said when he was a young player in Detroit, cornerback Rashean Mathis and safety Glover Quin really mentored him. Slay even remembers that after Mathis took over Slay’s starting job, Mathis approached him and told him he was there to mentor him and teach him, that it was Slay’s room.
So ever since then, Slay has made sure to help younger players as much as he can. He’s been doing that a lot this camp.
“I try to help [Hurts] as much as I can, man,” Slay said. “Just reading the coverages as much as I can. I’m not in the offensive room, so I don’t know his progressions or anything like that. What I tell him is really just go out there with confidence. And that’s what he has already.”
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