After his penalized and fined hit on Darren Sproles, Redskins safety Deshazor Everett discussed what the last week has been like and how he's hoping to take advantage of his opportunity in the secondary.
It's been quite a week for Redskins safety Deshazor Everett.
The second-year Texas A&M product received his first real opportunity to play safety on Sunday in Philadelphia and responded early when he recorded his first career NFL interception off quarterback Carson Wentz in the end zone.
The second half managed to be more memorable. After being penalized for an illegal block on a punt return, Everett popped Eagles returner and running back Darren Sproles as he waited to catch Tress Way's punt near his own end zone. The ball landed on Everett's back just a second after hitting Sproles, who had to exit the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion, which will keep him out of this Sunday's game.
Everett felt bad about the effect of the hit, wishing Sproles a speedy recovery after the game while explaining that his intent was never to injure him. The NFL handed Everett fines for both hits on Thursday, and what promised to be a week reflecting on his new opportunity turned into managing his social media consumption.
"He had to pay for it, unfortunately, but he's really, really a good kid," Gruden said. "He meant no harm by it."
"Occasionally, I just glance on social media to see what they're saying," Everett said. "You see some bad. Of course, you see some fans supportive of me and behind me. But anybody that has anything negative to say, they obviously don't understand the game of football. It definitely wasn't intentional, it's not like [Sproles] called for a fair catch and just took a shot at him. As you can see the ball hit me in the back as I was hitting him so I obviously was there just a second too early. That's a tough judgement to make when you're running full speed and someone's coming towards you and your job is to try to hit the guy if he catches the ball."
Everett said he asked teammates if he should reach out personally to Sproles this week, but they didn't think it was necessary.
"I'm sure he saw my interviews and…I'm not sure," Everett said. "I let it be known that it wasn't intentional. There wasn't anything personal behind it. I respect the guy to the fullest. He's probably about to be a Hall of Famer."
As he's digested the scope of that hit and its impact, he's also been able to focus more about his potential role within the defense. Safety Will Blackmon, who sat out Sunday's game with a concussion, will return this week, but Everett could see the 11 defensive snaps he received in Philadelphia again vs. the Panthers on Monday night.
"He's had a couple really good weeks of practice," Gruden said of Everett. "We gave him an opportunity and he got an interception so maybe he'll get more reps this week. You know, Will Blackmon had the hurt hand then he had the concussion to open the door for somebody like Deshazor and obviously signing [Donte] Whitner late or earlier in the season. We needed a safety. But we're trying to mix and match and trying to fight… find that right group that can play well together ."
The week leading up to last week's game, Everett had focused on playing in zero-man coverage in the red zone. He took advice from cornerback Josh Norman, who might have been the happiest seeing Everett -- a player he likened to himself -- succeed in an area he's worked hard to gain confidence.
"We worked with him," Norman said at his press conference on Thursday. "Shoot, he came out there and balled just like anybody else could. And that's what you do. You come and you teach guys. You don't hog it and keep it to yourself. That's why I try to be a leader in that aspect and help guys out where they need be. And so be it, that's how I am."
"It felt like I was finally getting the opportunity, which I have always been wanting," Everett said. "Definitely nothing to complain about. I'm excited about it and I just have to go out there and continue to show results, show them that I'm a guy they can trust."
And as for his continued aggressive play on special teams, Everett isn't letting an innocent mistake in the heat of the game cloud his judgment.
"Special teams plays last maybe seven seconds. You've got to go full speed those seven seconds," Everett said. "You slow up at all and somebody trips and falls, it's a touchdown…Let me get down there as fast as I can. Watch me any play, I'm going full speed."