Jim Caldwell: Darius Slay has “grown” this offseason

AP

The Lions opted to part ways with cornerback Chris Houston last week, a move that left Darius Slay in an even more important position in the Lions’ secondary.

Slay looks like the starter across from Rashean Mathis and his ascension comes at the end of an offseason that featured General Manager Martin Mayhew and defensive backs coach Teryl Austin each saying that Slay had a lot of work to do in order to improve his game. The offseason program has run its course and coach Jim Caldwell says that he’s seen progress from Slay in his first full offseason as a pro player.

“It’s been a couple months now we’ve been working and he’s grown,” Caldwell said, via the team’s website. “He’s gotten a little bit better. He’s coming along. He’s more confident. It’s a new scheme, but he’s making good progress. We feel good about where he’s heading.”

The new scheme calls for more man coverage — “even when you’re off the ball, it’s still man,” Slay said — and the Lions think Slay’s mix of size and speed make him the right man to do the job. He’ll have to prove them right or the cornerback position could prove to be a sore spot for Detroit again in 2014.