Old pals re­unite in Red­skins’ sec­ondary

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MASTER TESFATSION master.tesfatsion@wash­post.com

New Wash­ing­ton Red­skins safety D.J. Swearinger broke off on a route dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s off­sea­son prac­tice that amused cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man.

“Bro, what was that?” Nor­man asked Swearinger. Nor­man said Swearinger replied, “Man, I’m just out here balling.”

That’s what Nor­man re­mem­bers most about Swearinger the last time they wore the same uni­form as high school team­mates — he’s a baller. The two helped Green­wood (S.C.) High win its 13th state ti­tle in 2006. Now, Nor­man and Swearinger will look to re­dis­cover that win­ning chem­istry in Wash­ing­ton.

“Play­ing with some­body from where you’re from, you pretty much know what’s go­ing on with­out even say­ing much,” Nor­man said Wed­nes­day. “The non­ver­bal is more keen than the ver­bal. I know where he’s go­ing to be. He knows where I’m go­ing to be.”

Green­wood’s pop­u­la­tion is about 23,000, yet it boasts two prom­i­nent play­ers in Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ondary. Swearinger and Nor­man dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of team­ing up dur­ing the off­sea­son as Swearinger weighed his op­tions. It quickly be­came a re­al­ity dur­ing the open­ing hours of free agency af­ter Swearinger, an un­re­stricted free agent, signed a three-year deal worth up to $13.5 mil­lion.

“A lot of guys from where we [are] from, they don’t usu­ally make it this big,” Swearinger said. “. . . That’s a bless­ing.”

Swearinger filled a po­si­tion of need for the Red­skins, who have strug­gled to re­ceive con­sis­tent play from their safeties. He has bounced around the NFL for four sea­sons, play­ing with the Hous­ton Tex­ans, Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers and Ari­zona Cardinals, but Swearinger has quickly im­pressed Red­skins Coach Jay Gru­den dur­ing the non-con­tact prac­tices.

“He just looks like a safety back there,” Gru­den said. “We know that he’s a phys­i­cal guy, but as far as cov­er­ages and break­ing up things, he’s got a lot of con­fi­dence.”

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