After various injuries sidelined Washington Redskins veteran DeAngelo Hall for most of the 2014 season and the early part of the 2015 season, the cornerback spent last year transitioning to safety as a way to get back on the field more quickly. Entering this season healthy, Hall says he’s hooked on his new position.
“At corner, it’s been fun, but it kind of became more like a job. The older I got, it became more stressful on my body,” Hall said. “Safety kind of gives me a chance to really sit back there and roam the field and be a playmaker, make some plays on the ball, be a ball-hawking safety, and I think they feel like I can be pretty darn good, and I feel like I can be one of the best in the league at it too.”
The 3-time Pro Bowl cornerback wasn’t sure if he’d continue to play if he were to transition back to his old position.
“I’ve always told myself when it becomes a job or it feels like a job to me, I probably should hang it up,” Hall said. “It was funny, I followed Charles Woodson’s last season really close because I got a lot of respect for him, personally I know him and I could remember C Wood making the comment he’s always wanting to play in games and always wanted to go to practice.”
Hall followed Charles Woodson’s final season very closely, and remembers a comment Woodson made about when he knew it was time to retire.
“One day, he kind of woke up on game day and was like gosh, if we don’t play a game today he wouldn’t be mad. He was like, that was never my mindset any other time. So that’s kind of when he knew it was time for him to hang it up and for me. It kind of felt like that for me at corner.”
The second the 2004 first round draft pick moved positions last year, the excitement for the game was instantly back and having been through a myriad of injuries, Hall isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I stepped back there to play safety last year it felt fun again. That passion and that energy and enthusiasm came back to me, and I play with it every day. I play with it every day, and it’s nice to have that feel when you go out to practice,” Hall said. “Kind of seeing my career flash before my eyes with the Achilles injury and then the toe injury. I cherish every single play on that field because I never know when that last one is going to happen.
“I’ve been blessed to play 13 years, or 12 years going into 13, but it could all end tomorrow, I could tear an Achilles again or tear an ACL and 32-year-olds don’t heal up like 21-year-olds, so I just want to go out there and really leave it all on the field every chance I get, and I think I did a good job of doing that last year, and that’s kind of the mindset I’m going to bring this season.”
Hall also gave Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins a glowing review after seeing him step up and become the teams’ unquestioned starter last season, but admits it took him a while to come around.
“I was a little bit nervous when we made him starter because Kirk had a little bit of a turnover problem the year before,” Hall said. “He kind of had that Brett Favre complex where he wanted to make so many good throws that sometimes it put him in bad situations. So really last year, we didn’t know really what to expect. Just to watch him grow and mature through the course of the season and just really own that position and own the locker room and that offense, I mean, it was amazing.”
Having sat in the shadow of Robert Griffin III for the majority of his career after both quarterbacks were drafted in 2012, Cousins continued to work, which Hall acknowledged greatly.
“We saw this guy come in as a fourth round pick and another guy in his draft is the number two guy kind of put on a pedestal and just to watch Kirk keep working, keep working, and progress to the point at where he is at now,” Hall said. “I have nothing but the utmost confidence and trust and faith in him that’s he going to go out and there and get the job done.
“He’s done a great job this off-season of really mastering the playbook. I’m out there playing safety, he’s playing quarterback. He’s making checks, I’m making checks. We’re trying to play chess with each other, and Kirk somehow seems to always get his offense in the right position. I mean he’s just special.”
Hall concluded his praise of Cousins by saying, “I can’t wait to watch him follow up what he did last year with his performance this year, man because I think we’re going to be something to deal with out there.”