Through the first few days of Philadelphia Eagles training camp, Darius Slay has the upper hand on 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith. Not actually surprising, since Slay has the most passes defensed in the NFL since entering the league in 2013 while Smith is a rookie with only three training camp practices under his belt.
Slay and Smith have been talking throughout the practices, trying to pick each other's brain and make each other better. The tips Slay has given Smith have worked, as the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback is preparing Smith for vigorous Sundays in the NFL.
"He learns a lot man," Slay said to reporters Friday on his evaluation of Smith. "He always has a plan. For him to be that young and the way he understands the game, that's good for him. I've been telling him 'any questions you need to ask me to find a way how to beat me and beat other DBs, just ask.'
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I'm not going to lie to you, or steal from you. I'm going to tell you what it is to win those one-on-one matchups."
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Smith has taken the tips from Slay in stride. On Thursday in 7-on-7 sessions, he beat Steve Nelson on a go route for an 80-yard touchdown on the left side of the field -- using his speed to outmatch the Eagles starting cornerback. Slay has made life rougher on Smith, but the Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama has embraced the challenge of going up against him.
What have Slay and Smith been discussing during practice sessions? These are the things Smith has been focusing on since camp began.
"Just a little technique stuff, it's not much serious," Slay said. "What do you do if I have inside leverage, what you do here if I have outside leverage? We're just going to keep working on details. It's only Day 3 and I'm sure as the year goes on we're going to have have more questions to ask each other."
Slay sees a difference-maker in Smith, a player who's willing to get better every day. Not pulling any punches, Slay is making sure Smith changes the narrative regarding Eagles high draft picks on the wide receiver position.