- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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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."