Detroit Lions look to break jinx against Arizona Cardinals to open season

Lions cornerback Darius Slay, left, closes in on New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan during the first half of an NFL preseason game on Aug. 25 in Detroit. (AP photo)

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

ALLEN PARK — Detroit cornerback Darius Slay recalls a time earlier in his career when he went up against Larry Fitzgerald, and the star receiver was able to beat the coverage.

Fitzgerald immediately explained why to his vanquished opponent.

“He kind of corrects you if you’re wrong about something out there on defense. That’s how nice a guy he is,” Slay said Monday. “He told me why he got me and how he knew what it was. … Right in the middle of the game.

“He caught it, and got up and was like, ‘Hey Slay, this is what you did.'”

Slay and the Lions will have another chance to face Fitzgerald on Sunday when Detroit begins its season hosting the Arizona Cardinals.

It’s a matchup that has not been kind to the Lions of late, with the Cardinals taking the past seven meetings, and this may be an unusually important opener for a Detroit team that made the playoffs last season but finished on a sour note.

The Lions dropped their final three regular-season games and were beaten handily by Seattle in the playoffs.

For the most part, they looked outclassed by top competition.

It’s not clear what challenge Arizona will present after a losing record in 2016, but the Cardinals went 13-3 the previous season, including a 42-17 win at Detroit. That was during the only really poor stretch for the Lions in coach Jim Caldwell’s three-year tenure.

They bounced back last season, but still have a lot to prove.

“There’s no room for error at this point, because now we’re preparing for the game,” receiver Golden Tate said. “Everything kind of turns up a little bit, as it should be. There’s a lot of excitement out there within that locker room.”