DJ Swearinger signed with the Redskins back in early March, but the former Cardinals safety had a feeling he'd end up in Burgundy and Gold long before that.
"Last year for sure, me and my guy Tony Jefferson was looking at this roster like, 'For sure, one of us going to the Washington Redskins,'" Swearinger said Wednesday after finishing another offseason practice in Ashburn. "It just happened to be me. I told him I wanted to come here."
When watching a few games worth of film of the Redskins defense last year, the two players saw plenty of issues in the back end of the secondary, according to Swearinger. The tape showed the same missed tackles and errors in pass coverage that Redskins fans have become accustomed to from the team's safeties
since football was invented for the past decade or so.
Coming into this season, the 25-year-old understands Washington's longstanding problem in the defensive backfield. He also thinks he can be the player to end it.
"I'm definitely aware of it," Swearinger said. "I'm looking forward to just playing my game, doing the things that have gotten me here, being the best pro and best teammate I can be, and I can for sure be that guy."
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Coach Jay Gruden sounds confident in the veteran, too, even though he's already on his fourth NFL team since being drafted in 2013.
"DJ has been great," Gruden said. "He’s been to every meeting, every practice and practices hard. He's got a great attitude for the position. You can tell he's got a mindset to play safety. He can do a little bit of everything."
So, why does Swearinger believe that he'll be part of the solution at safety for the Redskins, and not join the list of failed attempts that includes (but isn't limited to) names like OJ Atogwe, Bacarri Rambo, Duke Ihenacho, Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams, David Bruton, Reed Doughty, Ryan Clark, Chris Horton, LaRon Landry, Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson?
Well, in his opinion, the Redskins will be using him in a way that's similar to the way the Cardinals used him in 2016, which was the best year of his career. And that hasn't always been the case.
"In Houston, I just never got the chance to play in the middle," Swearinger said. "They played me at strong safety and played me at linebacker. So, I never had the opportunity to show off my range ability. Just last year, I got the opportunity to play free safety, something that I'm comfortable with and I was able to show my range."
If Swearinger can stay comfortable and produce for the Redskins in 2017, then opposing offenses will feel uncomfortable and — just maybe — he and Su'a Cravens will prove to be the pair that stops the never-ending rotation at the pesky spot.
There's been nothing safe about Redskins safeties for the last handful of years, but with Swearinger, at least it sounds like coaches are planning on (literally) putting him in the best position to succeed.