Darius Slay Jr Gears Up for Minnesota Matchup

September 13, 2023

Athlete Studio

As the Eagles swiftly shift their focus to their next opponent, they face a formidable challenge on the defensive front. Following their dominant performance in the early stages of Sunday's victory against the New England Patriots, where they ultimately secured a hard-fought 25-20 win, the Eagles find themselves with a tight turnaround. They are set to take on the explosive Minnesota Vikings offense on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Cornerback Darius "Big Play" Slay, who made a game-changing interception and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown on Sunday, commented on the upcoming matchup: "They're good. Weapons all over the field. Great corps of receivers," said cornerback Darius "Big Play" Slay, who intercepted quarterback Mac Jones on the game's first drive on Sunday and returned the football 70 yards for a score. "It's great that we started with a 'W' and that we started fast and got the job done. That's all that matters."

The Eagles are also contending with injuries, notably cornerback James Bradberry in concussion protocol and linebacker Nakobe Dean nursing a foot injury. The team's depth will be put to the test early in this 2023 regular season. Slay emphasized the NFL's "next man up" mentality: "It's always going to be next man up and everybody in this locker room has to be ready when his number is called," Slay said. "That's the nature of the NFL."

Despite a 20-17 loss to Tampa Bay, Minnesota's passing game was highly effective. Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 33 of 44 passes for 344 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson recorded 9 receptions, 7 of which were in the first half, for 150 yards. Rookie receiver Jordan Addison made an impact with 4 receptions for 61 yards, including a 39-yard scoring play. Tight end T.J. Hockenson contributed 8 catches for 35 yards, moving the chains effectively.

While Minnesota's pass-heavy offense resulted in only 17 points due to turnovers and struggles in the red zone, the Eagles recognize the genuine threat it poses. Defensive end Brandon Graham acknowledged the need for improvement, stating, "We know they can be scary. We have a lot to clean up."

The Eagles are banking on a strong performance from their front line, similar to what they witnessed on Sunday. Rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter stood out with a league-high eight quarterback pressures, a sack, and a tackle for loss during his debut. Milton Williams provided a disruptive presence inside, Fletcher Cox made crucial drive-stopping plays, and Josh Sweat combined with Jordan Davis for a timely quarterback sack in the fourth quarter.

Last season, the Eagles stifled Minnesota with a commanding 24-7 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. They hope to replicate that performance with limited preparation time.

This one won't be easy. Not by a long shot. The defense led the way in Week 1 and will have to find a way to do it again on Thursday night against a Minnesota team searching for its first win of the season and smarting from the game one year ago.

Slay concluded on a determined note, "We love the challenge... Everything about it – short week, good team coming in. We need to be at our best and that's what makes it so fun. You have to love the challenge. This team does. We'll be ready to play ball."

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