Redskins receiver Paul Richardson snared a perfect pass for a touchdown over safety D.J. Swearinger. The defender hung his head despite having no chance on the play, momentarily showing his frustration Tuesday during a sequence that showed just how much Alex Smith’s uncanny accuracy has bothered Washington’s defense in training camp.
Moments later, Swearinger was vigorously signaling “no catch” after linebacker Preston Smith stopped a pass to running back Chris Thompson. Not long after that, the safety intercepted Smith and ran back a symbolic touchdown.
Cornerback Josh Norman said daily showdowns against Smith are like a game of cat and mouse, with defenders often playing the mouse. That doesn’t stop the defensive backs from roaring, though. This vocal group provides live commentary of the daily chess matches.
When Norman is the quiet one, it’s best not to trade barbs with this crew.
“Talk about talking trash – [Swearinger] is one of the best that I have ever seen,” coach Jay Gruden said. “Pulling his helmet, yelling, ticking off the offense, you know. He plays with great energy.”
Swearinger’s favorite target may be his coach. The safety loves to call out Gruden’s plays.
“I like to go back and forth with Jay all the time,” Swearinger said. “He always kind [of] starts it so I definitely got to try and finish it. It started in one-on-ones [and] carried throughout the day. Jay, he’s a good trash talker, you know, but he’s not better than me.”
The constant chatter has created a tight bond between the safeties and corners who constantly communicate. Swearinger is the leader after arriving last season, although cornerback Quinton Dunbar and safety Montae Nicholson are no introverts, either. Every time the defense wins a play, loud chatter follows.
“You’ve got to have that chemistry,” Swearinger said, “and you’ve got to have that bond together so that we can be all together as one.”
Norman has noted with frustration that Smith hasn’t given him a chance to make many plays. The corner also conceded that Smith’s accuracy has been difficult to defend, making it even more important for the secondary to communicate where the ball is going.
Norman didn’t have an interception last season after grabbing three in 2016, his first season with Washington. That decrease has to do with fewer opponents throwing his way, so this training camp isn’t much different than most games.
“If you’re playing Cover 2, we’re not going to throw a flat route out to Josh Norman and let him pick it,” Gruden said. “I mean, that’s just common sense.”
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