DeAngelo Hall's transition to safety went smoother than most expected last season, and the fact that the 32-year-old made the position switch mid-season, recording 27 tackles and returning a fumble for a touchdown in his final six games, made it all the more remarkable.
While Hall deserves much of the credit for the work he put in, the Washington Redskins' coaching staff primed him for success by simplifying the position. Now, with an offseason to study the position, those same coaches expect more out of the former cornerback.
"Because we switched him midway through last year, we didn't want to have him see too much," defensive backs coach Perry Fewell said. "We're trying to put more on his plate [this season], give him more of a leadership role, have him speak more because as a corner, you don't talk to the guys inside. As a safety, you have to communicate with everybody."
At cornerback, Hall was tasked with smothering opposing wideouts in man coverage and shutting down an area of the field when the Redskins played zone. But as he takes on more of the traditional safety duties, Hall not only needs a more expansive understanding of the defensive playbook but also a firm grasp on the intricacies of each opponent's offense.
Hall appears to be living up to the expectations so far. Fewell said the three-time Pro Bowler has already "made a lot of progress" and "grown from last year." Hall's continued evolution at the position should be aided by his intellect, top-line speed and cover skills.
"D-Hall is a smart young man," Fewell said. "He's a smart football player and he has great vision back there. His skills, as far as being a corner and what he does back there, he brings speed into the middle of the field and to the half portion of the field for us. So we expect a lot of him as far as his steps and his growth going into the fall."
Dan Roth is a Breaking Burgundy contributor who also covers high school sports for The Washington Post. Follow Dan on Twitter @ByDanRoth.
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