Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from D.J. Swearinger's press conference at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
1. The defensive backs group has taken tremendous strides since OTAs.
It takes time for a defensive backs unit with two new starters at safety to gel. Just several days into training camp, Swearinger believes that process has already taken place on the field.
"Every day we're competing," Swearinger said. "The defense is getting their hands on the ball, keeping the energy alive, and I like where we're headed."
That's primarily because he's made an effort to cultivate relationships with teammates off the field, helped already by the fact that Josh Norman was his Greenwood High School teammate.
"I try to build that relationship off the field first and once you get out there on the field, it's all second nature. As long as we're gelling off the field, on the field it's easy."
2. The Redskins already feel like home for him.
Swearinger has played on three different teams in the last four years, never finding the right niche and place to root himself.
While he hasn't played a game with the Redskins yet, he feels confident that Washington will be a spot to stay in for multiple years.
"It's been a long journey, these last four years from Houston, Tampa, Arizona to here," he 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."
3. Talking trash fuels the team's competition.
It's not hard to know where Swearinger is on the field. Just turn your head to where you hear a lot of yelling and celebrating, or even playful insulting. The free safety has made sure that his energy and passion are always turned up at practice, and that usually gets everyone's competitive spirits up, too.
That's particularly true for the offense, too, which has barked back whenever it's made big plays against the defense.
"It gets us going a lot, man, because like I said, if the offense hears me yelling, once they make a play they want to yell too and it's a competitive thing," Swearinger said. "Both sides want to compete better. If you out there dead, man, the intensity is not there. To have fun, you've got to have fun, you've got to talk trash. You want to see what limits you can push people [to]. When people get mad, they tend to play well. That's the whole purpose behind that, and it's all to get better, man.
4. Su'a Cravens is developing nicely at safety with him.
One of the bigger questions entering training camp this season was the development of Cravens at safety after switching from linebacker at the end of last year. So far, Swearinger has liked what he's seen.
"He's coming along well," Swearinger said. "He's a natural athlete. He can do a lot of things well. He's very athletic, and gets in and out of his breaks. Communication with me and him has been great. We sit next to each other in the meeting room so I try to coach him up on small things that he hasn't seen in the NFL.
"I try to pick his brain, we try to pick each other's brain and stay communicating, keeping the communication level high."
5. He doesn't regret being miscast early in his career.
The Washington Redskins defense and special teams conducted their fourth day of training camp practice Monday, July 31, 2017 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
When he first broke into the league with the Texans, Swearinger played a mixture of strong safety and dime linebacker, positions that he felt didn't cater to his strengths. In other words, he wasn't allowed to play free safety, like he's doing with the Redskins.
Still, the experience was important for him – mostly to gain a better understanding of defensive assignments – and he will hope to utilize it as he patrols the back of the defense now.
"I think it was great for me because I learned the linebacker position," Swearinger said. "I learned how the linebackers fit. I learned how to fit in a different mindset, so it helped me a lot and I wouldn't take it back at all because playing that position is definitely different from playing safety."
As a free safety in Washington, Swearinger loves the way the defense is progressing as a whole under Greg Manusky.
"We've just got to keep taking it one day at a time, get better day-by-day, play-by-play," he said. "And the sky is the limit. I'll definitely be able to make a lot of plays in this defense."