DETROIT, MI (USA TODAY) - The most deserving players don't always get picked for the Pro Bowl, but Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay is confident he'll be on the roster when the league's annual all-star game selections are announced Tuesday.
"It should be a (given)," Slay said. "We’ll see how it goes. I done saw a lot of people get flaked out before, so I should for sure (be in). I ain’t trying to hear it. I might have to start a riot (if I don't get picked), ain’t going to lie."
Slay leads the NFL with seven interceptions and is a big reason why the Lions (8-6) are still in the NFC wildcard hunt with two games to play.
He often guards the opponent's best receiver, and this year has shined against Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham and Julio Jones.
"It’s just going to be difficult for me not to be able to be in the Pro Bowl," Slay said. "If I ain’t Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro. First team, too, not even second."
Slay finished fourth among cornerbacks in Pro Bowl voting by fans, and second behind only Xavier Rhodes of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC.
Four cornerbacks represent each conference in the game, with player and coach votes also taken into account in the selection process.
If he's selected, Slay will become the first Lions cornerback to be chosen for the game since Dre Bly in 2005. He'll also earn a $550,000 salary escalator for 2018 with a Pro Bowl nod.
"At this moment right now in my career it’s going to mean a lot cause there’s a lot of stuff come with all that stuff there," Slay said. "It’s going to mean a lot."
While Slay's selection seems like a given, the Lions might be hard-pressed to have many more players picked for the game.
Return man Jamal Agnew (fourth), kicker Matt Prater (eighth) and guard T.J. Lang (eighth) were the only other Lions to finish in the top 10 at their position in fan vote, though Slay said Agnew, safety Glover Quin and quarterback Matthew Stafford all are deserving of going to Orlando.
Agnew leads the NFL with a 16-yard punt-return average, Quin has three interceptions and three forced fumbles on the season, and Stafford is approaching 4,000 yards and has a career-best passer rating of 99.1.
Stafford did not finish in the top 10 in fan voting at quarterback.
"That (stuff) is crazy," Slay said. "I don’t be getting some of the stuff. Like I said, it’s kind of popularity. It’s all about who fans love who most. But yeah, that’s crazy. He’s No.1 in passing yards right now for sure, deep-ball rating is high. Got Marv (Jones) back there Moss-ing everybody. It’s simple."
Slay said he'd pick Rhodes, rookie Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints and Damarious Randall of the Green Bay Packers as the other NFC Pro Bowl selections at cornerback, with the Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson in the mix, too.
He called Peterson "top two in the league right now, easily," at cornerback, and said he's still striving to reach that level.
"I go by who does it the longest, and stays at a high level with it," Slay said. "Anybody can have that kind of year (once), and then have a boo-boo year the next year. So, nah. I go by who been doing it the longest. Like Pat P. been doing this since he been here."
With the Pro Bowl selection show set for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Slay said he'll wait patiently for the phone call telling him he's in, and then he'll change one of his social media bios to reflect his selection.
He won't, however, tell his kids they're headed to Orlando for the game so they don't bring up a trip to Disney World.
"I can’t tell them that," Slay said. "They’re going to have to guess, cause they’ll start the countdown right now and I’d be aggravated every day. I can’t do that. But there’s no doubt, I should be (in) for sure, though. First-team All-Pro, too."
Joe Dahl earned the highest grade from Pro Football Focus in the Lions' 20-10 win over the Chicago Bears last week, and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he was pleased with Dahl's performance in his first career start. "Joe did some good things out there, and he hung in there pretty well," Caldwell said. ... Caldwell declined to update the status of his injured offensive linemen on Monday. Center Travis Swanson missed the Bears game with a concussion, right tackle Rick Wagner missed his second straight game with an ankle injury, and right guard T.J. Lang left in the first half after he aggravated a foot injury. Dahl started at left guard, with Graham Glasgow moving from left guard to center.
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