Although he’s already played half a season at safety, DeAngelo Hall anticipates taking a significant step forward in the coming months.
He’ll benefit from an entire offseason of first team reps at his new position, rather than attempting to master a new job on the fly, as he did late last season.
"I’m still learning some different things, but I’m having a blast," Hall said. "I enjoyed being able to get a little taste of it last year, and [now] starting from scratch this year."
Hall, 32, made the switch to safety last November in part because, well, he had to. He had toyed with the idea of making the transition for a couple of years, but upon returning from toe injury in Week 10, the longtime corner found himself in need of a place to play with Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland entrenched as the starters.
And so, at long last, Hall officially began following in the footsteps of Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson and Ronde Barber—all of whom made a successful, late-career pivot from corner to safety.
Indeed, after playing his first 11 seasons exclusively at corner, Hall played the final seven games of 2015, including the Wild Card loss to the Packers, at safety. Although the transition went as smoothly as possible, changing positions in the middle of the season, much less during a pressure packed playoff push, is never ideal.
Now, though, Hall’s finally getting the opportunity to really sink his teeth into his new role, which, he recently revealed, will feature a key tweak.
"I’m pretty comfortable," Hall said. "It’s a little different; last year, I played a little more strong than free, and this year I’ll play a little more free than strong. But in our defense you have to be able to do both. You have to be able to interchange. [The offense] can motion one guy, and the free safety becomes the strong safety and the strong safety becomes the free safety. You got to know them both. So, to say I’m free safety really doesn’t mean much because, like I said, one motion and I’m the strong safety in the defense."
During the only OTA practice open to the media last week, Hall, who is entering his ninth season in Washington, lined up as one first string safety. Newcomer David Bruton Jr., meantime, was the other. And while Bruton could face some competition, it's probably safe to pencil in Hall as a Week 1 starter.
"It’s been fun,” Hall said. "That’s probably the best word I can use."
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