Lions begin training camp with Slay and Harrison reporting
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Darius Slay and Damon “Snacks” Harrison eliminated a potential distraction, reporting with the rest of the Detroit Lions for training camp.
“Everybody’s here,” Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said Wednesday. “We had a good morning. A good start.”
Both Slay and Harrison did not attend the Lions’ mandatory minicamp last month, hoping their absences would help them get new contracts. Slay is in the third year of his $50 million, four-year deal. Harrison has two years left on the $46 million contract he signed with the New York Giants.
Detroit drafted Slay 36th overall in 2013 and the cornerback earned All-Pro honors in 2017. Harrison played with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2012 and was an All-Pro defensive tackle in 2016.
“Their skill sets are very good,” Pasqualoni said. “They’re veteran players. They’re pros. They’re smart. They’re everything you would hope an older guy is who has been able to be in this league and survive for a number of years.”
Detroit acquired the run-stuffing Harrison from the Giants last season, and he steadily made the unit better, particularly against the run. Harrison made it easier for teammates such as linebacker Jarrad Davis to do their jobs.
“It’s complete mayhem in front of me,” Davis said. “It’s a massacre. I just got to go in and get an elbow in there and get a finger on the ball carrier because (Harrison) just swallows them up. It’s awesome to have him in front of me.”
The Lions are counting on some of their offseason additions, especially defensive end Trey Flowers, to take some pressure off Slay and the rest of the team’s defensive backs when they’re in pass coverage. Flowers was put on the physically unable to perform list ahead of the team’s first practice on Thursday. He reportedly had shoulder surgery this offseason. In March, Flowers signed a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $90 million.
Detroit also bolstered its depth at cornerback, signing veterans Marcus Cooper, Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin to play opposite Slay.
“We will be able to really compete,” Pasqualoni said. “I personally think we have a really good crew of wide receivers, so hopefully everybody is practicing hard, going hard, full speed. We’re going to have a really good chance to really see. It would be premature for me to say, ‘I think one is better than the other.’ You just can’t do it right now. It’s not fair to do it.”
And by trying to pressure quarterbacks and defend the pass better, the Lions are desperately hoping to force more turnovers after ranking 31st in the league last year at recovering fumbles and making interceptions.
“We weren’t very good in that category,” Pasqualoni said. “We’ve got to focus on the turnover. Period.”