Detroit Lions: Austen Lane

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Darius Slay has been in this position before.

With Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston not practicing all week and now officially doubtful for Thursday's game against Green Bay, Slay will once again potentially be one of the Lions' starting cornerbacks.

Just like he was the first week of the season.

Since then, Slay has bounced in-and-out of the lineup. He began the season starting opposite Houston at cornerback, but was pulled from both games for veteran Rashean Mathis.

Mathis eventually replaced him in the starting lineup full-time in Week 3, pushing Slay to spot duty and as an injury fill-in, which he had to do multiple times in place of both Houston and Mathis.

But those first two weeks, when he won the job, were difficult and it showed.

"My first two weeks, it was rough," Slay said. "The game and the speed was so different. I was like, 'man, this is what's going on right here in the NFL.'

"But then, as I got accustomed to it, they just slid me in back-and-forth, give me the feeling of it, brought my confidence like crazy, yes, this is where I need to be."

A potential starter again, Slay won't say he wasn't ready to start the first time, but he was "second-guessing" himself too much and striving for perfection when making the play is what he needed to do.

Sitting on the bench watching Houston and Mathis helped that. So did advice from Mathis telling him to stay loose and to do what he does well, along with what the coaches were saying.

Now in the same position again, he has a bit more experience and knowledge to potentially handle it.

"I'm ready," Slay said. "Ain't no second-guessing about me being a starter. If they tell me I'm going to be a starter, I'm going out there with the same mentality I got out there when I wasn't.

"Go out there and compete and beat the guy in front of me."

If Houston ends up inactive, Detroit's available cornerbacks would be Mathis, Slay, nickel Bill Bentley and little-used Jonte Green.

Also, the Lions signed offensive lineman Rodney Austin off the practice squad Wednesday while releasing defensive end Austen Lane, who was signed while Ziggy Ansah was injured.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions signed Austen Lane earlier this week as insurance in case rookie Ziggy Ansah won't be able to play Sunday against Chicago.

From the looks of it, he might not.

Ansah missed his third straight day of practice Sunday with an ankle injury, joining right tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) and cornerback Bill Bentley (knee) as guys who have missed every practice this week.

Linebacker Travis Lewis (ankle) returned to practice, as did safety Louis Delmas (knee). Receiver Nate Burleson was out there for the third straight day catching passes.
Good morning and ROOOOAAARRR!!!!

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- He has a beard rivaling linebacker DeAndre Levy's, a personality that would fit in well with the affable wide receiver Nate Burleson and could be looked at as early as this weekend to replace defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

This is Austen Lane, the Detroit Lions' newest defensive lineman, signed Tuesday to give some help to the front four. Lane played his first three years for the Jacksonville Jaguars -- making 66 tackles -- before being cut this past offseason, a situation he wrote about for The MMQB.

To stay in shape as he waited for a new team, Lane picked up other sports.

"It's one thing to be in football shape, obviously, you can't put on pads and you're not going against guys every single day, but I've been doing boxing, MMA stuff," Lane said. "That's what I was really getting into. And then just weight training, things like that.

"Boxing and MMA kind of filled my void of hitting people and stuff like that because I still need some contact, you know what I'm saying. I can't just go and bench 225 pounds a couple times and call it a day. I had to do something else. That's where the MMA came in and helped out a lot."

Among the interesting things about Lane -- besides the beard, dreads, writing prowess and MMA -- is one of his tattoos. He has a tattoo of Bob's Big Boy -- seriously -- on his right bicep.

He said in Jacksonville, Fla., that he had to explain it was the Big Boy, not Jimmy Neutron. That won't be a problem in Michigan.

"It says 'Doing Big Boy things in a Big Boy world,' " Lane said. "You guys got these restaurants around here, right?"

Detroit needs Lane to pick up the defensive scheme quickly. Ansah has not practiced all week with an ankle injury and if he can't play, the Lions would only have ends Willie Young, Israel Idonije and Devin Taylor with any experience playing.

In Jacksonville and Kansas City, Lane said he played in a 3-4, which is a little different than the 4-3 the Lions play. But he'll have to be prepared to play Sunday against Chicago.

"That's the idea," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "We didn't bring him in to just practice. He's going to have to be ready to play in case Ziggy can't go.

"We won't know until we get later in the week but that's the plan right now. Everyone has to prepare, even our practice squad players prepare as if they have to play on Sunday. That's the only way you can do it."

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