RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Bashaud Breeland intercepts a pass during practice and heads toward the end zone, and free safety D.J. Swearinger runs alongside hooting and hollering as if the play just won the Washington Redskins the Super Bowl.
Earlier, Swearinger made the same celebratory noises when it was him with the pick.
The 25 year old, in his first season with the Redskins, has stamped himself as the team’s energy guy.
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”It’s just me loving the game and giving out energy and passion,” said Swearinger, who has also played for Houston, Tampa Bay and Arizona since being drafted out of South Carolina in 2013.
”It is my job because every player, they don’t feel comfortable talking. It’s not who they are. On a football field, it’s just who I am.
”This is where I have my fun. This is where I can be myself and have fun.”
The Redskins, who in recent seasons have tried filling their free safety position with converted cornerbacks, are banking on Swearinger being a significant upgrade in their secondary, and in their backline communication.
”D.J. has done a great job of being that leader and communicator,” coach Jay Gruden said.
It’s a role Swearinger has played since he was just starting out in the game.
”I have to bring that because I’m a natural born leader,” Swearinger said. ”My mom always told me to lead, not to follow. That’s what I’m doing here.
”We’ve got an excellent opportunity every day, man, when we go out there on that field. It’s a blessing to be out there, so why not give your all, give it high energy and give the energy that feeds off others? That’s what I try to do, and I’ll keep continuing to do that.”
Officials might take issue with how he chooses to celebrate a good stop by the defense, but Swearinger isn’t concerned because there’s no hint of taunting in what he does. It’s more an explosion of congratulations.
”It’s all enthusiasm,” he said after a recent practice. ”It’s all to up-bring my team. It’s not to bring anybody down. It’s not to bad-mouth anybody. If my guys make a play, as the DBs or as the defense period – it’s hard to make plays in this league, so when we make a play, I want to acknowledge that play.”
After a nomadic first four years in the league, he’s also hoping his moving days are over. With the Redskins, he’s also been reunited with cornerback Josh Norman, a high school teammate at Greenwood in South Carolina.
”It’s been a long journey, these last four years from Houston, Tampa, Arizona to here,” Swearinger said.
”I feel like now I’ve finally got a home. I feel like this is home. When I’m out there practicing, it feels great. It feels like I’ve known these guys for the last five years. I definitely feel at home. The previous years have definitely taught me a lot on the field and off the field. I’m just looking forward to continuing this journey.”
NOTES: The Redskins signed offensive lineman Kendall Pace and linebacker Ron Thompson Jr., and waived safety Tim Scott and wide receiver Kendal Thompson.
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