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Griffin's 'upbeat' attitude never wavers

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Griffin's 'upbeat' attitude never wavers

Robert Griffin III’s ability to make a play in the clutch is apparent. What’s not so obvious, though, is the subtle impact the ebullient rookie has made behind the scenes at Redskins Park.

On the practice field. In the classroom. The weight room, too. 

And particularly after a tough loss (or two).

“So far, just working with him for a year, Robert has been the same every Monday,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said when asked how Griffin, 22, keeps his teammates' "chins up" in difficult times. 

“Whether he’s been good or bad,” Shanahan continued, “whether we’ve won or lost, he comes in upbeat and eager to get better.”

Griffin’s enthusiasm, coaches and players said, is infectious.

“It’s important because after a loss you’re just trying to move on,” running back Evan Royster said. “You need to get ready for the week to come and you can’t change the past. That’s just who he is: Robert’s a happy person. It brings out the best in everybody."

Added Coach Mike Shanahan: "He's an upbeat guy. He looks at the positive and he's tough on himself at the same time. His disposition is very good."

Griffin’s positive attitude has been especially important in recent days given the team's struggles.

Two weeks ago, a defensive lapse in the final moments led to a gut-wrenching loss to the Giants. Last Sunday, Redskins receivers dropped 10 of his 34 pass attempts in a disheartening 27-12 loss in Pittsburgh.

If ever there were a time for Griffin to brood and sulk, this week would have been it. Instead, he arrived in Ashburn on Monday morning to begin preparing for this week's pivotal game against the Panthers in a familiar frame of mind.

“You need that from your quarterback,” Shanahan said. “When you have guys in those roles and they’re really down and moping around it definitely affects the whole team. It’s important on any NFL team to have big players in key positions, especially the quarterback, act that way.”

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Who will be the Redskins new top wideout?

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Who will be the Redskins new top wideout?

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay make predictions about the Redskins leading wideout in 2017 and how the offense shakes out. Plus, who will drink the most beer over Memorial Day? Bonus guest local celebrity Mitch Tischler joins the pod.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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After 4 teams in 5 seasons, D.J. Swearinger knows what it takes to make the Redskins home

After 4 teams in 5 seasons, D.J. Swearinger knows what it takes to make the Redskins home

It's never been a talent issue for D.J. Swearinger. In college he made big plays and earned all conference honors playing in the SEC at South Carolina. He was drafted high by Houston, second round in 2013, and started 10 games his rookie season. 

In his first two seasons with the Texans, Swearinger started 22 games and proved to be a playmaker. He logged three interceptions and more than 100 tackles. He looked like a possible long-term answer at safety, until he was uncermoniously cut after his second year.

Reports showed Swearinger bucked at playing special teams. And over time, a reputation as a big - sometimes dirty - hitter emerged. 

None of it helped Swearinger, who was signed by Tampa in 2015. He played seven games for the Bucs but was cut mid-season. Arizona signed him late in the 2015 season, and kept him for 2016.

Last year, playing on a defense with strong leaders like Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson, Swearinger excelled. He played all over the Cardinals secondary, starting 12 games and making plays like he did early in his career in Houston.

He finished the 2016 season with three interceptions, two sacks and eight passes defensed. He made more than 50 tackles. Pro Football Focus rated Swearinger with a +15.3 grade, by far the highest of his career and good for the 8th best rating of any safety in the NFL.

The Redskins haven't had solid safety play in years. In 2016, the team tried to address the position on the cheap, converting cornerbacks to safeties and signing low tier free agents. It didn't work.

So, finally, in 2017 the Redskins front office addressed the safety position by signing Swearinger to a three-year deal. And it sounds like the 25-year-old has grown up a lot after five years of bouncing around the league.

"I've been on a lot of teams. I want to make this home," Swearinger said (full video above). "I feel like I’m experienced enough to know what to do as a pro, know what to do to stay on top of things and be a pro. As long as I be a pro every day and make the plays I’m capable of, I’ll be a Redskin."

Swearinger's deal will keep him with the Redskins through the 2019 season, but already, head coach Jay Gruden seems excited about the new safety. Earlier this offseason, Gruden said watching film of Swearinger revealed a player hitting the highest levels of safety play in the NFL. In OTAs, seeing Swearinger in person, Gruden was impressed.

"Watching him the first two days really excites me. He just looks like a safety back there," Gruden said. "No offense to the previous safeties we’ve had before, but I just think D.J. is to a level in his career right now where he’s got a lot of confidence. He has got a lot of talent."

There was some question if Swearinger can play the free safety role in Washington. More to the point, if he has the speed to play a true center field, with second-year man Su'a Cravens moving from linebacker to strong safety. Swearinger has zero concerns.

"I'm a free safety, I think that fits my body well," he said. "As a free safety you got to have the confidence in yourself that you can run with those guys and make plays on those guys."

Swearinger doesn't lack for confidence, and he shouldn't. Combined with Cravens, along with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland at cornerback, the Redskins secondary could be a strength in 2017.

"We have a lot of talent. If we work day in and day out, I think this group can be one of the best," Swearinger said. "We just got to keep working, keep gelling to get everybody on the same page, the sky’s the limit."

It's normal for players to be excited in May. There supposed to be. 

Coaches, however, tend to be more hesitant with praise. Not optimism, but actual praise, though when it comes to Swearinger, Gruden isn't shy about his expectations.

"We know that he’s a physical guy, but as far as coverages and breaking up things, he’s got a lot of confidence and I think he’s going to really, really emerge as a top safety not only for this team but in this league," the coach said of his new free safety.

It's been a long journey for Swearinger, four teams in five season. He's hoping this one sticks. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back