In Their Words: David Terrell

Few gave David Terrell a serious chance of starting once training camp opened. And they gave him even less of a chance when Keith Lyle showed up. But Terrell continues to start, and he continues to impress his boss, Marty Schottenheimer, with his steady play. Here, Terrell talks about his adjustments to starting, as well as a new position. After all, he was drafted three years ago to play cornerback.

''When Keith Lyle first came in I thought I would at least be able to compete for the job. All I wanted each week was to try and get better because that's the only situation I could control. I tried not to worry about it, but sure it was there. A veteran guy backing up a young guy? Maybe any little thing you do could end up making you a backup so I did everything I could.

''I started off the season with a couple of missed tackles and it was because I took bad angles. I've slowed down and gotten the proper reads and taken better angles. That came from a lot of filmwork, but it's also just technique. You see where the play will develop and you get there where the running back might be at. As a cornerback if you're going to tackle someone, it's usually in coverage so it's a lot easier. As a free safety you have to fill alleys. I'm involved in the run defense a lot more. But I'm still working on that.

''During camp I felt any little mistake I did was magnified because I was young and not the determined starter. But as the summer went on I felt more secure about the position.

''Sometimes you see everything, but there's a lot of stuff you don't need to look at. That's why I have to make my proper reads. Like on a play-action pass. If I'm supposed to cover the deep third and I see a run fake and I react, even if I'm not the force guy. On that play I shouldn't even react. I should just see the receivers' release and know it's a pass. I can't bite on the play fake. I've really improved on that, no question.

''I'd say I got comfortable around the sixth or seventh game. I wasn't as tense as I had been so I could just relax and go play. That doesn't mean I wasn't nervous. I still get butterflies, but after the first hit or the first series then I settle down. Each week I've gotten better and I'm getting more and more comfortable. Last year I didn't do as much preparation because I was viewed mostly as a special teams player. But playing free safety I have to do that because there are situations where I have to help others line up. It's a major difference for me than playing corner. At safety we have to see the overall picture. We have to know whether others are in the right spot or the wrong spot.

''Now I'm making plays that I needed to make at the beginning of the season. I'm getting my eyes in the right spot. I started off just taking my drops and being where I was supposed to be. Now I'm also taking a look at what the quarterback is doing and taking my drops. That puts me in position to make plays or at least not be beaten by them.

''But I haven't made enough big plays. And the plays I have made have come when I was playing at corner. Both of my interceptions came when I lined up at corner. But at free safety the quarterbacks have thrown away from me. I haven't been tested where they go directly at me. There haven't been too many teams that go over the top against us because we have two good cornerbacks and a good third corner. That's not to say it won't happen.

''There's no doubt about it Arizona will probably test us. That's when the picks will come for me. I would love for them to test us over the top. Then I'll know where I'm at. I want to be tested.''

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers. For the latest game coverage, log onto the morning after the Redskins play.

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