Teryl Austin: Darius Slay is skilled but has “a lot of room to improve”

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The Lions allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game in 2013, and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was most recently the Ravens’ secondary coach. Not surprisingly, then, Austin was asked about the club’s cornerback play at his introductory press conference.

While Austin noted that teams “can’t have enough corners” and that by extension, the club would want to “strengthen up” that position, he did have positive things to say about the potential of cornerback Darius Slay, who started 4-of-13 games in his rookie season of 2013.

“I think we have some good young pieces,” Austin said Friday, according to a transcript from the club. “You know, as we watched the tape, one of the young guys, (Darius) Slay, I looked at him and you go, ‘Boy, he had his ups and downs.’ You know, he had some things, he had some growing pains. There were some times he didn’t look very good and there were some times he looked outstanding.

“Our goal is to try to get him to be consistent, to be a consistent player. That way, that talent will start to take over, but I think he’s a guy that has the ability out there and we probably want to try to improve.”

Later, Austin compared Slay to the Ravens’ Jimmy Smith, whom Austin coached in Baltimore the last three seasons as the club’s secondary coach.

“He was a lot like Darius,” Austin said of Smith. “He kind of flashed and has some tremendous talent. He would flash, but he didn’t quite play as consistently as you’d like. But then he finally, like a lot of them, sometimes it just clicks. It takes reps, it takes time and when it does, he starts improving in certain areas and everything else picks up. That’s the thing.

“We’ll work on Darius. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got a lot of room to improve and so we’ll try to just kind of improve on this area and this area and keep working the areas. Hopefully the improvement will show and he’ll be able to play an important part for us this year.”

As a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, Slay will surely get every chance to show his progress in Year Two.