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With A Full Offseason At Safety, DeAngelo Hall Is Embracing His New Role

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The 13-year vet made a late-season position swap in 2015, and now DeAngelo Hall has more time to adapt to his new place in the secondary.

In the NFL, change can be common. Players change numbers and teams. They move their families from one end of the country to the other.

The game itself is an ever-changing dynamic with coaches and players devising new ways to deceive and gain the upper-hand on their opponent. Sometimes the changes are subtle, and sometimes those alterations are more noticeable.

But in the case of 13-year veteran DeAngelo Hall, his change simply involves moving 10-15 yards away from the line of scrimmage. After spending 12 seasons as a lock-down cornerback, Hall enters OTAs as the team's starting strong safety.

"I've always wanted to play safety," he said. "I'm pretty comfortable. Last year I played more strong than free and, this year, I'll play more free than strong."

After his 2014 campaign was cut short due to an Achilles injury, Hall returned last year to appear in 11 games, starting seven, and making 48 total tackles. Halfway through the year, defensive coordinator Joe Barry started to tinker with the idea of Hall playing safety, giving him his opportunity more than once on game day.

Clearly, the Redskins liked the idea of Hall making that his new home in the secondary. So much so that they went out and signed Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman. Norman joins Bashaud Breeland on the edges and is widely regarded as Washington's new No. 1 cornerback.

"As a safety, you really don't even have to look that way so it's nice to go back there and have one side of the field cut off already pre snap," Hall said when asked about Washington's newest cornerback.

One of the longest-tenured Redskins, Hall enters his ninth season in Washington. Viewed as a leader of the defense, the three-time defensive captain is relishing his new role directing traffic and helping to put his teammates in position to make plays.

"I'm enjoying the mental aspect of it and I'm enjoying lining guys up," he said. "That's something as a corner you just worry about yourself and the guy in front of you, but as a safety I got to worry about all 11 guys on the field and it's been fun for me."

Standing before him are 10 other players that carry a mixed bag of experience. The secondary is full of young players while the defensive line and linebacker corps is spotted with players entering their third, fourth, fifth seasons and beyond.

One of the youngest players on the defense is rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller, a former Virginia Tech Hokie like Hall, who was drafted by the Redskins in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Just like any loyal alumnus would, Hall has taken the young corner under his wing, and he's been impressed.

"He is a heck of a player," Hall said. "You can tell he was coached up real good in college. He's grasped everything so far and we're just excited about getting him healthy and getting him back out there with us."

Over the past few seasons, the Redskins' secondary has been a bit of a revolving door. Players have gotten injured and others just haven't panned out. It's been an area that Washington has been continually working on.

In 2015, there was plenty of experimentation happening in Barry's secondary, including moving Hall to the safety position in the second half of the year. That adversity, Hall said, allowed them to put players in different positions and learn more about their own strengths and weaknesses.

As the Redskins continue to grind through OTAs, that experimentation continues.

"It's important to just try to get a feel for guys and what they do best and what we can use them at," he said. "Right now it's really trying to get a feel and testing out guys and trying to figure out where they can succeed at as well as where we as a team can be successful."

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