ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had quite a season in 2010. He returned a fumble for a touchdown to beat Dallas in the opener, tied an NFL record with four interceptions at Chicago, and concluded the campaign by winning Most Valuable Player honors in the Pro Bowl.
Last season? Different story.
His three interceptions were fewer than he had in the 2010 game vs. Chicago alone. He didn't reach the end zone at all. And Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant victimized Hall with deep grabs on third-and-long for the decisive plays that dealt the Redskins two late defeats.
"D-Hall is a magnet for the public eye," fellow starting cornerback Josh Wilson said. "He gets a lot of criticism sometimes. But you've got to look at the big picture. There are a lot of coverages where we look like we may have gotten beat, but it's not our fault at all. He's doing a great job."
But will he keep doing it?
Well, if you ask him, there are no worries. The three-time Pro Bowl pick acknowledges he's in need of a renaissance this season.
Say no more.
"I don't necessarily want to make up for it, but . do I want to go out and make plays," Hall asked. "Absolutely. Did I drop plays last year, or did I not make plays that I should've made? Yeah, I did. The opportunities were there, but I just didn't cash in on them."
In an effort to get more plays from Hall, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has moved him on passing downs from covering a receiver on an "island" outside, to the slot inside.
"I'm probably not a great corner, but I'm a great football player," Hall said. "To go in the slot gives me a chance to be a football player. You've got to be a complete football player. You've got to tackle. You've got to pick passes off. You've got to be able to read routes.
"I'm essentially the linebacker when we're in nickel personnel. They've given me a lot of flexibility to just go out there and make plays. You're closer to the action. A lot of times I'm lining up at linebacker depth, showing blitz and kicking back out to coverage or I'm showing like I'm covering and getting down to a run gap."
Collectively, the secondary was the weakest part of a Washington defense that soared from 31st in yards allowed in 2010 to 13th last year. Hall slumped. It took Wilson, a free-agent signee, most of the season to find his stride. Safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe were injured and ineffective. Neither was retained, prompting the additions of free agents Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson.
However, Hall, the most outwardly confident of these Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32), is far from worried about how the unit will perform.
"Last year, we were ranked in the top five at a certain point," he said. "Then things started going downhill, the turnovers stopped coming, we stopped making plays, we stopped getting off the field on third downs. They started picking up a lot of first downs on us. It got frustrating. We finished 13th. To come from 31st to 13th is a big jump, and we feel like we're poised for another big jump."
Coach Mike Shanahan believes in Hall. At this point, he likely doesn't have any other choice, but he believes nonetheless. Hall, who's heading into his ninth season but won't turn 29 until November, can bounce back ... and the coach knows it.
"You don't have great years every year," Shanahan said. "I think he's energized. (DeAngelo) has great ball skills. If he sees the ball coming in his area, he's going to intercept it."
Time will tell.
NOTES: Ailing right tackle Jammal Brown remains in New York where he's meeting with doctors to discuss how to treat his chronically ailing left hip that he re- injured while running sprints on the eve of training camp. The 31-year-old Brown didn't return a phone message. Brown, who missed all of 2009 while with New Orleans after having surgery on the hip, is on the physically unable to perform list. There's no timetable for his return. ... Fullback Darrel Young and receiver Josh Morgan remain sidelined with strained hamstrings. ... The Redskins, 5-11 last season, open the preseason at Buffalo on Sept. 9.
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