Months of rehab and patiently waiting served as a reminder that DeAngelo Hall can still be a top-tier cornerback. Thursday marked his return to the field.
The swagger is still there and the resume is already among the best ever for anyone at his position.
The question now for DeAngelo Hall, who is showing some gray hairs these days, is whether or not he can come back from a devastating season-ending injury suffered last season.
After spending a majority of the offseason on the sideline learning defensive coordinator Joe Barry's scheme from afar, along with serving in the defensive backs leadership role he took on years ago, Hall said today's the day he'll get to test out his surgically-repaired Achilles that was torn twice in a two-month span.
"Today I'll be starting out there with the ones and getting just as many reps as I want," he said. "We'll just kind of monitor it day-by-day and just see how my body responds and how I feel."
Hall entered the 2014 season fresh off a 2013 campaign in which he recorded four different touchdowns and a career-high 95 tackles.
But, after awkwardly going down with what was later revealed as an Achilles tear Week 3 last season, Hall had to watch as his teammates endured a difficult season, especially on the defensive side.
"It was frustrating, definitely frustrating," Hall said. "But everything happens for a reason. Those guys struggling, they got a chance to learn from that, get some experience. And I think as a whole, we got a chance to get another guy in here in Chris Culliver who can make plays and dominate. And so, obviously painful to watch, you know the end result having Culliver, myself, [Bashaud] Breeland, [David] Amerson, you know, having all those guys back there as far as corners, D-Gold [Dashon Goldson] and J.J. [Jeron Johnson], [Duke] Ihenacho back there, Duke, it's one of the most talented secondaries I've been around. I can't wait to get out there and play with these guys."
Hall joked about the talent each player brings to the unit, saying he'd have to "write out a dissertation" to explain what they can do collectively.
Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall has had a sensational start to the 2013 season, putting together a Pro-Bowl caliber resume on defense.
But there's nothing funny about what the secondary can do if they're all clicking.
"I think everybody wants to be a starter, but I think everybody also understands the bigger picture and the more guys we have that are champing at the bit to get out there on the field and pushing the other guys, the better we're going to be as a whole," he said. "I don't think any teams have went through a season and not had an injury in the secondary. You're doing so much running and moving around. I think it just gives us the ability, if something happens, bam. Next guy up. I feel like the next guy up's gonna be able to make just as many plays, if not more than the guy who's in front of him. It just gives us a lot more ability to do things."
Perhaps no one move was more important to the group this offseason than Chris Culliver, who is expected to battle one-on-one with the game's top wide receivers all season long.
"He's going to give us invaluable experience from playing in playoff games and Super Bowls and things like that," Hall said. "He's a guy who can make a lot of plays for us, now. I was excited to get him, I wanted [Aqib] Talib a couple years ago, so as a corner, you never don't want another great corner on your team, cause you know that's gonna give you more opportunities to make plays."
Possible move to safety?Hall has said a few times in the past that he could add length to his career by playing some free safety.
He certainly has the athletic ability, and few understand the game on an X's and O's level the way he does.
But, at least for now, he's still all-in at cornerback.
"Yeah, it's still in the back of my head," he said. "You know, we got some pretty good safeties now, so the need for me to go there, probably isn't as demanding now as it would have been in years past, but it's something we definitely floated around, the ability and go out and play wherever they need me to play, whether that's safety or at corner, slot, I'm gonna do what I need to do."