Lions promote Darius Slay amid changes

It has always seemed a matter of time before the Detroit Lions elevated rookie cornerback Darius Slay to first-team status, and it appears that time has come.

Slay spent the weekend in that role, having hurdled veteran Ron Bartell to work opposite Chris Houston. The signing of veteran Rashean Mathis provides additional depth and competition, but it's worth noting that Mathis has practiced at both cornerback and safety.

Slay, the first cornerback to be drafted by the Lions in either the first or second rounds since 1998, has been especially impressive in man coverage but also has been "patient' in press technique, coach Jim Schwartz told reporters.

"We really don't have depth charts right now, but we do have rotations," Schwartz said Sunday. "He's getting some good reps and that’s because of his play in the preseason games. The greatest reward is the opportunity to do more."

Slay's promotion is part of a larger defensive adjustment the Lions have made midway through the season, having signed a veteran to provide additional competition at defensive tackle (Justin Bannan), linebacker (Rocky McIntosh) and defensive back (Mathis). They'll find out exactly where they stand Thursday night, when they host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In case you missed it, Brady was nearly perfect (11 of 12 for 107 yards and a touchdown) Friday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.