RICHMOND — Redskins coach Jay Gruden had heard the stories. He knew cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s reputation as a brash presence who didn’t always live up to his own healthy self confidence.
“I did hear about DeAngelo a little bit, some of the reputation, some of the things that happened, the attitude that he has” Gruden said. “But as a cornerback, you kind of want some of that attitude, that cockiness, that confident air about you. As long as it doesn’t affect your play. He’s proven the last few years that it doesn’t affect his play and I think he’s calmed down a little bit.”
Hall, who played college football at Virginia Tech, eventually wore out his welcome in Atlanta and Oakland. But he had a productive season with the Redskins last year, one of the few bright spots on a unit that was so heavily criticized. With few big-name additions on defense this offseason, Washington needs Hall, now 30, to maintain that level of play. He’s backed off the bravado of his youth – but only a bit.
“As a corner if you don’t feel like you’re the best, you’ve got a problem right there,” Hall said. “I never said I was the best, I would be a fool to think 11 years in I’m the best in the game right now. I definitely think I’m pretty successful at doing what I do.”
“Like I said, man, if you really watch film, let’s go watch film and I put my film against any corner in the league and we’ll see what he does and we’ll see what I do and we can go from there. I definitely think that if you put me out there against a receiver, anyone of them, I’ll take my chances. I never said I was the best, but I definitely feel like I should be in the conversation.”
With veteran linebacker London Fletcher retired and young linebacker Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson still finding their way as vocal leaders, that may fall to a veteran like Hall. It’s not a role he’s been called upon in the past. But now he might have no choice.
“For me it’s about doing whatever the team is asking me to do,” Hall said. “Whether it’s go out to follow a receiver, whether it’s go to somebody else because [cornerback ] David Amerson is playing great ball, then that’s what I’m going to do. Mentally I’m just in a place where I know I don’t have a lot of football left, so I’m just trying to go out there and have as much fun as possible, lay it all on the line, not leave anything in the tank so when I do walk away from this game I feel good about it.”
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