- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ASHBURN — The crushing hits, such as the one DeAngelo Hall put on Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek in the Washington Redskins’ division-clinching win in Week 16, are his favorite.

Celek caught a pass from quarterback Sam Bradford and turned up field. Hall was there waiting for him and jarred the ball loose.

Hits like that have been refreshing for the 32-year-old, who made the transition from cornerback to safety this season after missing five games with a right toe injury. Switching to safety required Hall to be more physical, but it gave his body a break from the sharp cuts and pivots he was used to.

“I wake up every morning, I don’t feel sore, I don’t feel old like I did when I was playing corner,” Hall said earlier in December. “It was always, waking up, ‘Ah, my back’s tight. My ankle hurts. My knee hurts.’ Ever since I’ve been playing safety, I wake up every morning feeling 22 years old again.”

When Hall returned from the injury in Week 10, he embraced the change to safety and made five starts. While he’ll have the chance to get fully healthy in the offseason, Hall said it’s possible he’ll remain at safety rather than switch back to corner.

“I’m still getting that burst back,” Hall said on Monday. “I love playing safety. I like playing corner. I’ll do what I need to to help this team or any team win. I feel like I can be a hell of a safety. I feel like I could be one of the best safeties in the league. I’m enjoying the ride and we’ll see what happens.”

Hall, who finished the season with 48 tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, is under contract for two more seasons and carries a cap hit of approximately $5 million in 2016. Hall said he hopes to be back; coach Jay Gruden praised Hall for his progress this season and said he felt comfortable with Hall at safety.

“I think what he did in that role mid-season, I think he’s going to solidify himself as one of the top safeties in the league,” Gruden said on Monday in his final press conference of the season. “That’s my hope for him and I really believe that. He’s got the skill set for it. He showed that he’s not afraid whatsoever to tackle, No. 1, and he’s got the range to cover sideline-to-sideline. He can come out of the box and cover tight ends or receivers, so I’m really excited about having him there from day one in OTAs and learning the position and moving forward. I think it’s going to put a lot of years on his career if he wants to, and it’s going to be a huge benefit for us moving forward.”

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