RICHMOND – With 10 NFL seasons under his belt, DeAngelo Hall knows that he’s closer to the end of his career than the start of it. But he fully believes that he still ranks among the best cornerbacks in the league.
Earlier this week, Hall watched a television program that featured a debate about the top cornerbacks in the league, and didn’t see his name mentioned. Miffed, he took to Twitter and declared that he thought his body of work stands up against any of the top players at his position.
Thursday, as he kicked off the 11th training camp of his career, Hall laughed when asked about his tweets, but didn’t back down.
“As a corner, if you don’t feel like you’re the best, then you’ve got a problem,” Hall said. “I never said that I was the best. I’d be a fool to think that 11 years in, I’m the best in the game. But I do think I’ve been pretty successful doing what I’ll do. And like I said, if you really watch film, let’s go watch film, and I’ll put my film against any corner in the league and we’ll see what he does, we’ll see what I do, and we can go from there. I definitely think that if you put me out there against a receiver — any one of them — I’d take my chances. Again, I never said I was the best, but I definitely feel like I should be in the conversation.”
In 10 seasons, Hall has racked up 564 tackles, 127 pass breakups and 43 interceptions — five returned for touchdowns. He’s one of only five active defensive backs with 40-plus interceptions (behind Ed Reed, Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey and Asante Samuel).
But Hall doesn’t generally command the same type of respect as those players, or some of the young stars at the position. Asked why, Hall said thought for a second and then answered.
“Maybe my reputation,” he said, referring to the track record he had in younger years of being a brash, hot-headed player. “My reputation kind of precedes me a little bit. But I don’t go out there trying to please the media or the guys that are ranking corners. Probably early in my career, I did. But now I’m just, ‘the proof’s in the pudding.’ At the end of the day, I’ve got to line up across from this guy and it’s not about me saying, ‘I can do this, and I can do that.’ At some point, I’ve got to face Calvin [Johnson] and face Dez [Bryant] and all the other guys. I let my play speak for itself, but if you sit down and watch film and compare my numbers against those guys – any corner – I’ll take myself in a heartbeat.”
Hall said that although he believes he deserves to be in the conversation regarding the top corners, hearing his name mentioned doesn’t serve as his chief motivation.
More than anything, he wants to conclude his career — however many seasons remain — in a dominant, victorious fashion. Since joining the Redskins in 2008, Washington has reached the playoffs just once (in 2012). Hall has played in only two other playoff games (both in 2004 while with Atlanta). The 31-year-old would like to increase that playoff appearance tally as he enters the homestretch of his career.
“Mentally, I’m just in a place where I know I don’t have a lot of football left, so I want to go out there, have as much fun as possible, lay it all on the line and not leave anything in the tank, so when I do walk away from this game, I feel good about it,” Hall said. “That’s just been my approach to these offseason practices, and even last year. I just want to have fun and help us win as many games as possible.”
Hall added, “The goal is not about my individual success. … I understand it’s not about me, but about this team and I’m just trying to make everybody better. If I can have [second-year pro and fellow starter] David Amerson or some of these other young guys step up and make plays, that’s ultimately what I want to happen. I want these guys to eventually take over when I’m done or can’t do it anymore.”
If it seems like Hall has a chip on his shoulder, that’s because he does. He says that the entire defense does, and that they want to maintain that mentality as they try to rebound from a woeful season and transform into one of the league’s leaders.
“Absolutely, there is a chip on our shoulder,” Hall said. “Seeing Seattle go out there and have a dominant defense, going into this offseason, they’re what everybody is talking about. Everybody wants that kind of attention, and that kind of love. So, we all have got a chip on our shoulder – not just the secondary. We all want to be great. …We’re going to go out there and try to let our pass-rushers rush, secondary players have got to go out there and be physical and make plays. We have got to give our offense as many opportunities as possible for them to score, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
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Washington’s first training camp afternoon walkthrough of the 2014 season is at 4:10 p.m. in Richmond. Here’s our camp guide.
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