Hall's leadership, wisdom will be missed

ASHBURN, Va. -- The loss of Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall will be felt in little moments, in the meeting room, in between plays. That's when Hall dropped nuggets of information on his young teammates, trying to help them learn the position, or the game, even more.

So it's not just that Hall was still a good cornerback, one coming off a good year. It's the wisdom Washington will lose now that he's done for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. There's a reason he was the defensive captain.

During the summer, I remember talking to Hall about leadership. It was a big storyline early in the summer, but he had definitely undergone a transformation since he had signed with Washington in 2008.

"After doing it wrong a couple times through the course of your career, you figure out a way to do it the right way," he said at the time. "It's redemption at its finest, to come from where I came from and be in a situation I am now at this point in my career, it's a humbling time in my life. I'm enjoying helping these young guys out, trying to lead and show them the right way to do things."

The Redskins will try to replace Hall with a few players, promoting Chase Minnifield from the practice squad. They can start either E.J. Biggers or rookie Bashaud Breeland, with the other serving as the No. 3 nickel. They also have Tracy Porter, but he hasn't played since the season started.

The Redskins already envisioned a day when Breeland might be paired opposite David Amerson. Without Hall, the Redskins' secondary takes a hit. They lose a player with institutional knowledge about a number of receivers, especially in the NFC East. That goes a long way.

"He knows guys and the offenses and the different routes guys run," Biggers said. "He's a master at that. That's something I learned last year. ... It's just watching film and keying on guys and telling the safety, ‘Look, I don't need help on this play.' It's great to have a guy like that who says, ‘Hey, don't worry about this I got this. You handle that.' It helps us be more aware of everything else on the field."

In the offseason, Hall challenged Amerson to become more serious about his work habits. Amerson paid attention and did as he was told. He also watched as Hall and others in the secondary -- safeties Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather -- played physical. Amerson, who was not physical in college, changed his ways.

But Amerson also paid attention to how Hall defended and how he worked in practice and how he handled his film studies. Amerson said Hall helped tweak his technique when backpedaling -- where he should have his eyes and when and how to open his hips properly.

"I really do idolize the guy," Amerson said. "I study him to see what he sees and ask questions like, what were you thinking on this play? What did you see that allows you to be that much quicker? I'm always picking his brain."

It's not as if the Redskins can't win minus Hall. They still have a potentially explosive offense and strong pass rush. But Hall's presence will be missed, in some ways that perhaps people didn't realize.