DeAngelo Hall’s learning curve has been a steep one as he adjusts to playing nickel cornerback. Six days into training camp, though, the Redskins’ veteran said he’s finding a comfort zone after spending the first nine seasons of his NFL career playing on the outside.
More than anything, though, Hall said he’s looking forward to next Thursday’s preseason opener in Buffalo so he can cover a receiver not named Santana Moss.
“Santana has gotten me a couple of times,” said Hall with a chuckle. “I’ve gotten him a couple of times. I’m just excited about getting into some real games, going against other guys and seeing how I can mix it up against them.”
As the nickel corner, Hall’s list of responsibilities will grow. Not only will be charged with covering the slot receiver, he’ll also be in position to make more tackles and blitz.
But he’ll still get to utilize his greatest skill: making plays on the ball.
“I always make this statement: I’m probably not a great corner, but I feel like I’m a great football player,” Hall said. “To be a nickel, you have to be a complete football player. You have to tackle, you have to be able to pick off passes, you have to be able to read routes and you have to know what the linebacker does.”
Hall will be replacing Kevin Barnes, who struggled in slot coverage last season. Cedric Griffin, meantime, is expected to take over for Hall as the outside corner opposite Josh Wilson.
For the Redskins to excel in pass defense, they’ll need Hall to make a seamless transition to a new position in a revamped secondary the 28-year-old jokingly referred to as “full of misfits”.
In addition to Hall’s position switch, first-year secondary coach Raheem Morris also will be tasked with integrating two new safeties after the team released Oshiomogho Atogwe and let LaRon Landry walk in free agency. The unit ranked 21st in the league in opposition yards per pass attempt (7.5) last season.
Hall said he’s also aiming to have a bounce back season individually. After making his third Pro Bowl in 2010, Hall saw his interception total drop from six to three last season.
“Do I want to make more plays? Yeah,” Hall said. The more plays anybody makes, the more games we win. Did I drop plays last year or did I not make plays I should have made? Yeah, I did. I felt like the opportunities were there but I just didn’t cash in on them.”