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D.J. Swearinger Hoping To Excel At Free Safety In Manusky's Scheme


The Redskins' new addition at free safety has head coach Jay Gruden excited about the potential of the secondary under defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

Last week, when new Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger was mentioned to head coach Jay Gruden at a press conference, his eyes lit up.

"Watching him the first two days really excites me. He just looks like a safety back there. No offense to the previous safeties we've had before."

Gruden continued his praise, believing that Swearinger is playing with the utmost of confidence, simultaneously an enforcer and quarterback for the defense, and thinks "he's going to really, really emerge as a top safety not only for this team but in this league."

That's a lot of complimentary language for someone still trying to grasp a new defense and learn more about his new teammates after signing a contract last March. He spent the last two years in Arizona, following a stint at Tampa Bay, but hopes to plant his feet firmly in Washington.

Part of the confidence that Gruden sees Swearinger showing off comes from the comfort factor – playing free safety again and having eyes on the entire field. That's the position he played at the University of South Carolina, but as he broke into the league with the Texans, he was relegated to assisting at strong safety and dime linebacker.

Since he's returned to roaming deeper in the defensive backfield, he's emerged as a top player and found renewed enjoyment running sideline to sideline and calling out defensive communications.

"Your free safety has to be your most vocal guy because he sees everything, every play," Swearinger said. "I like the free safety better and I'm in the middle. A lot of receivers, they're not just going to be lurking in the middle when they see me back there. I like that better."

Check out these photos of safety D.J. Swearinger.

So far, his style has fit well with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's scheme, something he's still trying to grasp as OTAs progress. So far, it promises less thinking and more reacting, and can be "a very simple defense."

For now, Swearinger is still making sure he's adjusting to the different coverages called out and thinks that the variety of blitzing will be a better part of the defense's attack.

"I believe this defense can be very successful," Swearinger said. "Like I said, once we get everybody on the same page, the sky's the limit for this defense."

Everybody will include his former high school teammate and cornerback Josh Norman, who said last week that he and Swearinger have an unspoken communication on the field. It also includes his partner at strong safety, Su'a Cravens, transitioning to the position after playing linebacker during his rookie season.

Swearinger knows that with his experience in playing different coverages, he will be able to help in Cravens adapt by teaching the finer details of the defense.  

"I love his athletic ability," Swearinger said. "I can tell he's going to be making some plays in this defense. We've just still gotta keep talking. It's a little new for him back in space. But with his talents, with his smarts, he should be able to get it in no time."

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