PHILADELPHIA – Darius Slay knows the first thing he’s doing after getting settled in when the Eagles arrive in Detroit this weekend. He’s going to his favorite fried chicken place.
“They have this little stuff they call crack,” said Slay on Wednesday. “It’s not actually crack, but it’s only sugar, lemon pepper, and salt that’s in a little can and you pour it on your chicken, get a little spice to it, put some hot sauce on it, with some fries, then you throw the crack on the fries. It’s crazy.”
He said he’s going to line up a rideshare and do the drive-through when the Eagles (2-5) touch down in the Motor City to play the Lions (0-7) on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX).
Javon Hargrave, who was sitting nearby during Slay’s news conference, may join. The defensive tackle was licking his lips when Slay was talking chicken then owned up to liking fried chicken.
Slay spent the first seven years of his career with the Lions, arriving as a second-round pick in 2013, right after the Eagles spent the 35th overall pick on Zach Ertz.
“It’s like my second home,” he said. “I’ve been there seven years. I appreciate Martin Mayhew taking a chance drafting me, the Lions organization taking a chance on me. I have a lot of family there. Built a lot of good relationships. It’ll be a good home visit for me, and I appreciate the fans for sure. I’m real big in the community there, so it will be a good feeling to be back in Detroit.”
Meanwhile, in Detroit, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has become a mainstay on the Lions’ line and former Eagles assistants Duce Staley and Dave Fipp are working on head coach Dan Campbell’s staff.
Vaitai, or Big V as he was known during the first four years of his NFL career, took over for injured Jason Peters and was the starting left tackle after Jason Peters got hurt on the 2017 Super Bowl championship team. He is now a guard.
“We felt all along just going into this year that probably the right way was to put him at guard and let him settle in,” said Campbell on a Wednesday evening conference call with reporters. “He was hurt last year, and they bounced him a little bit (between positions) … He just never had a chance to really be healthy and settle in.”
Vaitai was hurt last season and played just 10 games in his first year with the Lions.
“We just felt like where we were at it would be a good move, and boy it sure has been," said Campbell. "He’s been playing at a high level for us, he’s been steady, and he’s been a staple for us up front. He’s outstanding. We love where he’s at right now.”
Slay has been doing just fine, too.
He has three interceptions with the Eagles in 22 games, including two in a win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.
“I’m still playing great,” said Slay, 30. “The only thing is the picks (19) I had in Detroit. Was there seven years, but other than that, started off good, finishing off good. I remember a couple bad games I had in Detroit, still. Had a couple here, but I’m playing where I need to be. But I can always get better and I’m going to continue to get better.”
Slay believes he may be one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the league, and the reason for that – TV.
“Sometimes you have to remind people,” he said. “It’s tough, definitely at that time playing in Detroit was kind of hard. We had a great fan base, but it’s not a popular team, it’s not a team on every Monday night game, Sunday night game, those primetime games, but I have a lot of respect from coaches, so that’s better.”
Not being in the spotlight miore was one of the reasons he wanted out of Detroit.
"I feel like a lot of stuff comes with popularity,” he said, “who the media likes the most, who the media talks about the most, but if you look at my film, I’ve been doing everything a corner needs to do. I’ve been in a defense where man was every play with no help, doing what I had to do, locking up guys, being in a zone defense and man defense, getting all the picks, so I did everything that a corner needs to do and been doing it at a high level for a long time.
“A lot of coaches pay attention to it. I get a lot of respect after games, talk to them, but it’s the outside world, the fans, the media that’s not really – I don’t want to say know the game - but know what’s going on because I’m not on TV a lot”
The irony is he came to the Eagles opening for more of that primetime action, except the Eagles went 4-12 in his first year and are 2-5 this year.
“I’m one guy,” Slay said. “I can’t change the whole narrative of the whole team, but I will do whatever I can to help us get to that situation. All I can do is keep going out there, working hard every day, helping guys underneath me to get better, so that’s the goal.
'I’m all about winning, but at the end of the day, I’m all about helping people, too. I want to do the best for everybody on this team.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.