A Refocused DeAngelo Hall Is Ready to Play With Something to Prove

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a two-time Pro Bowler, was signed by the Redskins eight games into the 2008 season after he was released by the Raiders.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a two-time Pro Bowler, was signed by the Redskins eight games into the 2008 season after he was released by the Raiders. (Photos By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 27, 2009

When Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall first approached Mark Craig and asked for his help, Craig wasn't sure what to think. A popular boxing coach in the area, the 42-year-old Craig had just wrapped up his third summer working out with a handful of Redskins players.

But Hall's proposal was different. He wanted to take part in training camp's two daily practices, lift weights at Redskins Park and then hook up with Craig in the evenings for a boxing workout -- a 14-hour day of pain and sweat.

"I thought instantly, 'Why in the world does he want to do this after a full day of practice?' " Craig said. "But later on, thinking about it, you can see that the kind of person he is, he wants his bases covered. He wants to do more than other athletes because he wants to be the best."

So on a half-dozen nights during camp, Craig and Hall met and slipped on boxing gloves. Craig put Hall through the same routine he'd give any of his fighters: heavy bags, mitts, speed bags, jump ropes. Thus far, Hall says he couldn't be more pleased with the results.

"I haven't missed a practice, haven't been hurt, everything has felt good," said Hall, a sixth-year veteran who says he's in the best shape of his pro career. "I feel like this was one of the easiest training camps I've been a part of."

While it took Craig a couple of workouts to fully understand Hall's motivation, the two-time Pro Bowler had decided months earlier that he'd approach his first full season with the Redskins with a new mind-set. Hall has told anyone within earshot that he is playing this season with a chip on his shoulder.

"I feel like I'm still one of the best in the game," said Hall. "But I know I have to go out and prove it. I feel like I did slack a little bit last year. I got a little bit lazy."

In 2008, the Oakland Raiders traded their second- and fifth-round draft picks to acquire Hall from the Atlanta Falcons. The Raiders immediately made him the game's highest-paid cornerback, signing him to a seven-year, $70 million contract.

It isn't easy for him to admit, but looking back, Hall says the money might've affected his play during his brief stint in Oakland.

"When you get the money, it's easy to be content," he said. "Regardless of whether someone thought I was the best or not, I was the highest paid at what I did. Period. I felt like that solidified me as being the best. I didn't feel like I had to keep proving anything to anyone."

Already this year with the Redskins, Hall has seen more preseason action than he did in a Raiders uniform. Last year, hampered by a hand injury in training camp, Hall played just a single series in two of the Raiders' four preseason games. A year later, he's played in both preseason games, including seeing significant time last week against Pittsburgh. He is expected to play an entire half Friday night against the New England Patriots.

Hall fared only slightly better during the regular season last year. He had three interceptions in eight games before the Raiders released him Nov. 5. Even after the Redskins signed Hall to a one-year deal three days later, he said the way his stint in Oakland ended continued to motivate him during the offseason.

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