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July 28, 2023

Reunited on the Eagles, Darius Slay leaves the past with Matt Patricia behind

"We both want to win," Slay said of Patricia. "He's here to help me get better, he wants to get better as a coach, so we're in good hands right now, man. It took a lot for both of us to talk."

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7.26.23_EaglesPractice_Darius-Slay-8542.jpg Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay walks to the field for the first practice of training camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia.

When Darius Slay sat at the podium in the scorching South Philadelphia heat at the NovaCare Complex on Friday, it was almost inevitable that questions about his relationship with Matt Patricia were going to come up. 

It's been well documented that during Slay's last two years in Detroit, when Patricia was the head coach, the two did not get along at all and Slay wanted out, which paved the way for a trade to the Eagles in March 2020. 

But now they've been reunited after the Eagles hired Patricia as a defensive assistant during the offseason.

Awkward? Maybe at first, especially because Slay's contract status was in limbo at the time, which didn't fuel the greatest of speculation over his future in Philadelphia. 

But now? Slay said Friday that he's willing to leave the past in the past. He wants to win, and there's only so much time to do it. 

"We talked about it during the offseason," Slay said following the Eagles' second training camp practice. "They called me and I was like 'You know, it's cool with me,' because I want to do what's best for the organization. I always tell guys we're on a rented seat, nobody's in this seat forever. So I said 'Y'all do what's best for the organization.' They [asked] 'Would I be cool with it?' I said 'Yeah.'"

So Patricia joined the staff, he and Slay talked man-to-man, established a new understanding of one another, and moved forward. 

"We both want to win," Slay said. "He's here to help me get better, he wants to get better as a coach, so we're in good hands right now, man. It took a lot for both of us to talk, so we did a great job. We communicate every day, we talk every day, so we're just trying to build everything on forward because, at the end of the day, we want to win. That's his main goal, and that's my main goal."

Patricia was hired as the head coach of the Lions ahead of the 2018 season after gaining notoriety as a coordinator on Bill Belichick's staffs in New England. Upon his arrival to Detroit, however, he seemed to have it out for Slay, who had developed into a Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback by then, from Day 1. 

Patricia regularly undermined Slay's talent and character when they were together in Detroit, with Slay saying in a radio interview after he left that Patricia once told him he had no business working out in the offseason with the NFL's other elite corners at the time in Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib. The situation was just not built to last. 

But it quickly proved to be a major misread on Patricia's part. 

Slay got to the Eagles and kept on going as a Pro Bowl-caliber DB, forming one of the league's best cornerback duos with James Bradberry last season on the way to the NFC title. 

Patricia, meanwhile, got fired after a disastrous run in Detroit, latched back on with New England as their offensive playcaller, but only lasted a year in the role after the Patriots struggled to put up points too. 

He does have Super Bowl experience on his résumé though, and that's something head coach Nick Sirianni highlighted when word broke of Patricia's hiring back in the spring. 

So he's here now. 

Slay said there was no apology for what happened in Detroit when he and Patricia talked, but then again, it didn't seem like Slay was really looking for one. 

The past is in the past. He wants to win, and there's only so much time to do it. So he's moving forward.

"It's not really needed," Slay said. "We both talked it out, like I said, as a grown man. We just handled it like 'Aye, we respect each other enough to put everything aside. Let's move forward and just get better.'"

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