Reporting Nate Griffin
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Houston (CBS-Houston) – He looks the part on the field. When standing upon him and talking football, you feel his presence – the intensity, and one other necessary intangible – the nasty. Oh yes – he seems to have it!
Houston Texans second-round pick, free safety D.J. Swearinger appears to be exactly what the Texans needed. Friday morning was the first official training camp practice for the home team and the rookie safety from South Carolina appeared to fit right in during first practice activities.
“It went great – it went real great! I felt comfortable out there with all the calls and I felt like I was flying around.” That is exactly what the Texans need – another defensive playmaker!
Swearinger was compared often to a tackling missile while at South Carolina because of the way he launched himself into tackles while making the big hits that got him recognized by the Texans and the NFL.
While a Gamecock, he was second in total tackles with 79 in 12 of 13 games. However, he led the team in solo tackles with 62, 22 more than future first round pick and ESPY winner, Jadeveon Clowney. But, it’s also fair to point out that Clowney finished second in the nation with 23.5 TFL’s and could be the first player taken in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The position of free safety was addressed by the Texans in the off-season with the signing of former Baltimore Raven and future Hall of Famer, Ed Reed. However, Reed was placed on the PUP list, physically unable to perform, still recovering from hip surgery. Reports have it that Reed could possibly be ready to play week one of the regular season.
But, if he’s not, next man up on the early depth chart posting is Shiloh Keo and backing up Keo is Swearinger, maybe. But, if Swearinger were needed to start, he says, no worries.
“If called upon, I’m ready to start. I’m ready to do whatever the team wants me to do.”
Swearinger seemingly is flowing quite well with the process of learning the defense of Wade Phillips. He doesn’t seem fazed at all by what most would consider a pressure-cooker situation for a rookie.
“I don’t feel any pressure. I welcome all the pressure if it’s any. But, I don’t feel any pressure. I just feel like I got to go out there and do what I got to do and that’s just be myself and play ball.”
What do you suppose enables Swearinger to be himself while defending his territory against the best of the best? What makes any player different or special from the next – size, speed, endurance, or knowledge? He’s got the size at 6’0” 210. His 40-meter-combine time is 4.67 which indicates that he has adequate speed to cover ground and make plays. In fact, Swearinger was not deterred at all by the speed of Friday’s first practice. He’s already sounding like a veteran.
“I felt comfortable with it. It wasn’t fast to me at all. I felt like I, with my confidence and my knowledge for the game, I felt like I slowed everything down and I was able to play.”
Teams want their players to have those talents which generally translate to wins and eventually championships. But, in the case of D.J. Swearinger, he has a very special talent which gives him the edge.
“I’ve been talking trash with football all my life – since little league. So, whenever I’m talking trash, that’s me having fun, me being myself.”
It’s certain that the Texans want Swearinger talking trash through the 2013 season right into the AFC Championship game – and maybe beyond.
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