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Position switch helps Redskins DB DeAngelo Hall feel young again

ASHBURN, Va. -- The move energized DeAngelo Hall in a way he didn’t expect. The Washington Redskins safety – and former Pro Bowl cornerback – wakes up feeling something he didn’t expect: excitement.

He was coming off an Achilles injury and dealing with a sprained toe that robbed him of some explosiveness. So, at 32, switching to safety was a natural move.

“I wake up every day excited to come to practice,” Hall said. “I can’t say I was so excited a year or two ago playing corner. It got a little old and monotonous, so playing safety rejuvenated me and I’m enjoying it. I wake up every morning and I don’t feel sore or old like I did playing corner. I felt old waking up. It was always something. My back was tight or something. My ankle hurt, my knee hurt.

“Playing safety, I’m feeling 22 years old again.”

Hall was limited to the Redskins’ six-defensive-back alignment when he first started playing safety. But he played some in their base package last week. In the last three games, he’s played 119 snaps. The Redskins will align him on the line against a tight end, play him in a single-high look or in a two-deep set.

He’s had to learn a new position during the middle of the season, a tough task.

“Those are things you want to do in an offseason, so a guy gets 10 OTAs and all of training camp and then when you go into the season, you're like, ‘Cool,’" Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “It's not something you want to do midway through the year, but he's been a pro about it. He’s been very diligent. He's really worked his butt off and been a true professional. He's still got a long way to go, but he's making strides every week."

The more Hall plays safety, the more decisive he is coming up to make tackles, whether against the run or the pass. He said he understands his gap responsibilities better.

“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable doing those things,” Hall said.

Hall said his experience at corner helps. He understands what those around him will do, or want to do, in coverage. The Redskins initially just put him as a single high and asked him to cover. Now that they can move him around, it helps disguise coverages – or at least leaves quarterbacks wondering what he might be playing.

“It’s throwing some offenses for a loop because they always expect me in the post,” Hall said. “It’s just a nice change up from time to time to play a curl-flat [coverage] or be down in the box and be involved in the run game.”

The learning curve will continue during the next three weeks and likely the entire offseason as Hall segues into the next phase of his career.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what it takes to play safety in this league and it’s a hell of a job. I knew that going into it,” he said. “It hasn’t been harder than I thought, but it’s been a challenge.”