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DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

DJ Swearinger feels like he's in position, literally, to solve Redskins' safety issues

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.​

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Need to Know: Redskins stock watch—Three up, three down

Need to Know: Redskins stock watch—Three up, three down

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 22, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins stock watch: Three up, three down

For some Redskins players, the outlook looks much brighter now than it did when last season ended. Others have seen their stocks decline. Here is a look at three players in each category.

Stock up

CB Quinton Dunbar—His rise started the day after the season ended when he signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract. It continued when the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland opened up more opportunity at his position. Then the only additions at corner were veteran Orlando Scandrick and seventh-round pick Greg Stroman. Dunbar has a clear path to a starting job, perhaps for the next few years. 

G Shawn Lauvao—At the end of the season, he was coming off of injured reserve. It was the second time in his four seasons in Washington that he finished the season on the sideline. He turned 30 last year and as the prime weeks of free agency passed, he didn’t get much attention. His fortunes started to turn when the team didn’t sign or draft a guard. Then on May 4 when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington. Shortly after that Arie Kouandjio, his primary competition at left guard, was lost for the season with a quad injury. While there is no guarantee that the Redskins won’t look at other options at left guard, for right now it’s Lauvao’s job to lose. 

S Montae Nicholson—It was hard to make much out of his rookie 2017 season as he spent half of it on the sideline with injuries. But early in the offseason, Jay Gruden said that Nicholson was as important to the defense as Jordan Reed is to the offense. Given that Reed has made one Pro Bowl on his resume and could get more if he stays healthy and that his presence on the field tends to lift his teammates, that’s high praise. It means that Nicholson is at the top of the depth chart in Sharpie. He still needs to stay healthy, but he is not a player who is at risk of losing his job due to an injury. 

Stock down

RB Rob Kelley—This one of pretty obvious. He finished the year on injured reserve and a couple of the running backs signed as injury replacements, Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall, looked pretty good. Then came the draft and Derrius Guice as the second-round pick. Right now, he looks like the No. 4 back and he will have to fight hard to keep a roster spot. 

DL Ziggy Hood—Most expected the Redskins to draft a nose tackle early and that’s what happened when they took Daron Payne in the first round. That didn’t hurt Hood’s stock much. But they followed up by taking Tim Settle later in the draft and that made the depth chart very crowded. Hood is the seventh D-lineman and they usually only keep six. Even if he makes it he could spend a lot of time on the game-day inactive list. 

S Deshazor Everett—Nobody expected the Redskins to draft a safety, but they found the speed and athleticism of Troy Apke too attractive to turn down in the fourth round of the draft. The rookie needs some work on his game, so it appears that Everett, who started eight games last year, will be the first safety off of the bench early in the season. But it’s likely that they will want to get Apke in games as soon as he’s ready and that could leave Everett on the bench. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey was born on this date in 1978. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 34
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 48
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 71

The Redskins last played a game 173 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 79 days. 

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Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

For most college players, being a part of the NFL Draft experience is a dream come true, but for Derrius Guice, it was becoming a nightmare. Originally projected as a first round pick, Guice saw his name falling fast on draft boards due to questions raised about his maturity and high-maintenance personality.

Two months removed from the Redskins selecting him 59th overall, Guice has erased any doubt regarding his character. Whether it be taking fans out to the movies, shooting the breeze while signing autographs, or even the occasional leap frog over two practice barrels and a trainer, Guice has ingrained himself as a Redskins fan favorite. He's done a great job at making himself popular, now he's focused on making change for others. 

On June 20th, a day before his birthday, Guice announced he would be running a fundraiser for the Mary Bird Perkins center, a cancer foundation in his hometown of Baton Rouge. Inspired by his best friend's mother who "rang that bell,"—an indication that a patient has beaten cancer—Guice wants to help others do the same. 

Guice has utilized his newfound popularity to entice other peope to donate. If you donate $5, you can play him in Fortnite. For $50, you guys can go bowling together. Anyone willing to donate $100 or more will be entered in a raffle for tickets to the Redskins Monday Night Football game against the Saints. 

If Guice can match his off the field popularity with on the field production, he'll be in contention for Rookie of the Year. Anyone interested in donating can click here