- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ASHBURN — Redskins safety Deshazor Everett picked up tight end Niles Paul’s route and cut off a pass from Kirk Cousins during Wednesday’s practice. The timing was just right and was greeted by a loud cheer from defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.

For the past week, Everett has been practicing with the Redskins’ first team since Su’a Cravens was hurt in the first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. The play was the right recognition — and another measure of growth for Everett.

A year ago, Everett played just 38 snaps on defense. He spent the majority of time on special teams, and when he did take the field on defense, it wasn’t until the last four games of the season. Twenty-one of Everett’s 38 snaps came Week 15 against Chicago.

“I say it all the time, just knowledge and understanding, that’s the biggest part of it,” Everett said. “I mean, I’m a physical guy. I can run. I can tackle. The coaches know that. But they want to know if they call the play, that the guy is going to execute. That’s all I’m trying to show and prove right now, that I know what I’m supposed to do so they have the trust to put me out there.”

The Redskins’ relationship with Everett, in many ways, has always been about trust.

In 2015, Everett trusted his job was safe after he made the initial 53-man roster. But, he was released and signed to the practice squad two days later. Washington needed another tight end because of injuries. That meant Everett had to go. It was the second cut of his already new career. He was let go by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the summer after signing there as an undrafted free agent.

But Everett worked his way back and was added to the active roster during Week 4 and spent the rest of the season on special teams. That offseason, the coaching staff had a request: change from cornerback to safety.

Again, Everett had to trust the coaching staff it was the right move for his career. In turn, they had to believe Everett was capable of making the switch.

“It’s a major adjustment period,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “As an offensive guy, I think, a [defensive back] is a DB, right? ‘It’s a DB, just go back there and play safety.’ But it’s a lot harder than you think. … He’s become more and more comfortable playing the middle third, playing the half, playing quarters, his run-fit responsibilities, when they shift out to empty, when they go unbalanced — I mean there’s a lot of things a safety has to communicate.

“I think he’s learning more and more, and feeling more comfortable.”

Everett’s time with the first-team will most likely be temporary. Cravens is expected to be back by Week 1 after needing to have his meniscus repaired and cleaned up. Gruden said Cravens felt a little pain after the swelling went down and so the doctors performed the surgery and will be fine.

Gruden said he thinks Everett can handle the expanded responsibilities in the meantime.

Everett, though, can tell the difference in talent practicing with the first team. He said there’s a different progression when reading Cousins compared to backup Colt McCoy. The speed and timing are different.

“That’s why they’re starters,” he said.

And Everett will still be a core member of the Redskins’ special teams. Against the Ravens, Everett went out for the coin toss to represent the unit. Everett said it was an honor Gruden chose him to go out there. It was another sign of trust Everett could lead the group.

Everett likes special teams for two reasons: his career started there and he gets to “throw it out there for the seven seconds that most of the plays are.”

In fact, Everett’s career might be defined by one special teams play he had last season. In December, Everett leveled Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles on a punt return.

The hit drew a $48,000 fine and many were quick to call Everett a dirty player. He maintains that he isn’t one and it was a bang-bang play. The play was a learning experience for him, as well. People, he said, are going to say what they want.

There’s a conundrum Everett faced, too. Does he have to hesitate for a split second so he can time the hit just right? If the punt returner doesn’t call for a fair catch, is he supposed to ease off? 

“The play all-around was a tough play,” he said. “It was unfortunate what happened, but it’s hard to say I would do anything different if I went back.”

Everett said if anything from the play sticks with him, it’s the fans eager to criticize him.

“Oh I still hear about it,” Everett said. “I’m definitely ready for Week 1.”

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