ASHBURN, Va. -- Veteran Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had quite a season in 2010. He returned a fumble for a touchdown to beat Dallas in the opener, tied an NFL record with four interceptions at Chicago and won Most Valuable Player honors in the Pro Bowl.
Last season? Different story. He dipped to three interceptions, and didn't reach the end zone.
In an effort to get more plays from the three-time Pro Bowl pick, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has moved him on passing downs from covering a receiver on an "island" outside, to the slot inside.
"I'm probably not a great corner, but I'm a great football player," Hall said. "To go in the slot gives me a chance to be a football player. You've got to be a complete football player. You've got to tackle. You've got to pick passes off. You've got to be able to read routes.
"I'm essentially the linebacker when we're in nickel personnel. They've given me a lot of flexibility to just go out there and make plays. You're closer to the action. A lot of times I'm lining up at linebacker depth, showing blitz and kicking back out to coverage or I'm showing like I'm covering and getting down to a run gap."
The secondary was the weakest part of a Washington defense that soared from 31st in yards allowed in 2010 to 13th last year. Hall slumped. It took Wilson, a free-agent signee, most of the season to find his stride. Safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe were injured and ineffective. Neither was retained, prompting the additions of free agents Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson.
"Last year, we were ranked in the top five at a certain point," Hall said. "Then things started going downhill, the turnovers stopped coming, we stopped making plays, we stopped getting off the field on third downs. They started picking up a lot of first downs on us. It got frustrating. We finished 13th. To come from 31st to 13th is a big jump, and we feel like we're poised for another big jump."
Heading into his ninth season, Hall won't turn 29 until November, so he can bounce back ... and coach Mike Shanahan knows it.
"You don't have great years every year," Shanahan said. "I think he's energized. (DeAngelo) has great ball skills. If he sees the ball coming in his area, he's going to intercept it."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press