RICHMOND, Va. — No one around the Washington Washington Football Team harbors doubt about whether has the know-how and competitive spirit necessary to come back from two — count ‘em, two! — operations on a torn Achilles tendon.
Least of all the ever-confident Hall himself, of course, who answered with a simple “Yeah” and a chuckle when asked whether he can regain his starting job. He is, don’t forget, second among active NFL players with 43 interceptions.
The question, really, for the cornerback, who turns 32 in November, and the team is whether he’ll be able to fully recover physically.
“The mental part of the game, he has. And I still see his skills. Does he need to clean up his footwoork? Does he need to get his angles correct? Does he need technique work? Yes, he does. But that’ll all return with time,” defensive backs coach Perry Fewell said. “We’re taking it slow with DeAngelo. A lot of people are not able to get back and play at a high level after that type of injury.”
To that end, Hall sat out Saturday’s walkthrough and practice — the first of training camp with full pads — after participating with the first-team defense during Days 1 and 2. Fewell said Hall will follow that pattern for now: work two days, then take a day off.
“Not being in football in 10 months, I’m going to need some monitoring, as far as reps and things like that, just to make sure I don’t kill myself in the first two weeks,” Hall said. “You’ve got a little bit of anxiety — kind of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement — so it felt a little different. But once you get on the field, it’s still football. My leg still worked. Still not quite as explosive as I want to be, and they say that’s going to take some time, but I feel good.”
Having Hall ready for the regular season took on increased importance for Washington when defensive back Bashaud Breeland was suspended for Week 1’s game against Miami. In addition, Breeland injured a ligament in his right knee at practice on Friday and is expected to miss the next four to six weeks.
One player expected to get extra reps during Breeland’s absence is fourth-year pro Justin Rogers, who appreciates having Hall around.
“You try to stay in his back pocket and pick his brain,” Rogers said. “Different ways to read the quarterback, kind of bait the quarterback. He has so many little tricks of the trade he does to kind of mess with quarterbacks. All the guys are kind of being a sponge and soaking that knowledge up.”
Hall was sidelined for offseason workouts, so practices at training camp represent his first full-fledged participation since initially injuring his left leg in Week 3 last season. He hurt it again in October, requiring a second surgery, after encountering some trouble with the scooter he was using to get around.
“I just kind of hit a little toy while going into the kitchen at about 3 a.m. one night and flipped the scooter,” Hall said. “I didn’t have my boot on and slammed on my foot. Popped it again.”
It was the first time since his rookie year that the three-time Pro Bowl selection didn’t appear in at least 13 games.
And Hall, now entering his 12th year in the league, found it “painful to watch” as the Washington Football Team went 4-12 and were one of the easiest teams to pass against.
They allowed an NFL-high 35 passing touchdowns. They tied for worst yards-per-pass-attempt average, 8.2. And their seven interceptions ranked ahead of only three teams.
Washington added cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Dashon Goldson in an effort to improve. A healthy Hall could help.
“It’s well-documented how good he is. … He’s going to be our starting cornerback right now and until somebody knocks him off,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We do have some people breathing down his neck, for sure.”