Eagles Veteran Cornerback Wants To Be "Blueprint" For Rookies

Darius Slay attended a voluntary OTA so the young secondary players the Eagles drafted know he is there to help them in whatever way he can.
Darius Slay meets with reporters following an OTA practice on May 22, 2024
Darius Slay meets with reporters following an OTA practice on May 22, 2024 /
In this story:

PHILADELPHIA – Darius Slay could have stayed home. This is his 12th NFL season.


Been there done that. So many times.

Here he was, though, on a hot and sunny Wednesday afternoon in South Philly lining up with a bunch of 20-somethings. There are plenty of new faces at the cornerback spot, and it’s a spot Slay has played for 12 NFL seasons now.


“I want to compete, and young guys see my face and understand what 12 years looks like and how I got to 12 years,” he said after the hour-long practice.

So, he showed up. So did defensive lineman Brandon Graham, as his 15th and final season gets underway. Lane Johnson chose to exercise the voluntary part of these OTAs and wasn’t in attendance.

Quinyon Mitchell
Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; Toledo Rockets cornerback Quinyon Mitchell poses after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the No. 22 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are breaking in two rookies at cornerback, both of whom came in the top 40 of this past NFL draft. Quinyon Mitchell came at No. 22 and Cooper DeJean at No. 40 after the Eagles traded up to get him.

“That’s the main thing to teach them how to be a pro,” said Slay. “I was talking to them (Wednesday), just letting them know I’m always here for you boys. Anything you all need from me, I got you, I’m the blueprint for everything to make sure they succeed at this level.

“That’s my job to do, that’s what I was always brought up to do. I’m an older brother of all the siblings, so it’s always been my duty to lead and be the example and make sure they get the right directions.”

Slay is now a father. He could have easily stayed home to spend time with them before the grind begins again, but he understands he has a job to do, too.

“I’m a family guy,” he said. “I have kids, my daughter does a lot of stuff, she does sports, so I want to make sure I’m there for that. But at the end of the day, I have a job and I want to reach out to other people. I take care of my family first for sure, but these guys are my extended family, too, so I come here to make sure I plant the seed and let these guys know I’m here, too.”

Slay suffered a knee injury last that required a cleanout procedure. He missed four games, the most he’s ever missed in a season during a career that has seen him make six Pro Bowls, including each of the last three seasons.

The veteran cornerback, however, said he is back to his same old fast self despite being 33.

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I honestly feel like I’m 25 again, feeling good. I came a couple times in OTAs and for seven-on-sevens, guys wanted to race. Guess who won? The 33-year-old guy. I let them know the wheels are back, so I’ll be ready.”

Just because the wheels are rolling again, Slay doesn’t believe he will play too much longer before opting to retire.

“I’m not talking too long now,” he said. “I’m going to let these young guys eat so that’s what I’m here for to make sure these guys get there, so when my time is up, it’s up,” he said. “I’m ready to be a full-time daddy. I have a daughter who’s running track, so I’m ready to have my track hat on. I want to get her into tennis, too, so I can be a tennis dad, too.”

Right now, he’s taking the time to raise another couple of kids – Mitchell, 22, and DeJean, 21.

More NFL: Eagles OTA Overreactions: Among The 10 Are Kenny Pickett And James Bradberry

Ed Kracz


Ed Kracz has been covering the Eagles full-time for over a decade and has written about Philadelphia sports since 1996. He wrote about the Phillies in the 2008 and 2009 World Series, the Flyers in their 2010 Stanely Cup playoff run to the finals, and was in Minnesota when the Eagles secured their first-ever Super Bowl win in 2017. Ed has received multiple writing awards as a sports journalist, including several top-five finishes in the Associated Press Sports Editors awards.