Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda provides five things to know about new Washington Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger, signed on March 10.
1. He comes to Washington with a pretty extensive professional resume to date.
Signed last Friday as part of the Redskins' first crop of free agent signings, Swearinger joins Washington to help shore up a safeties group that featured six – David Bruton, DeAngelo Hall, Donte Whitner Sr., Deshazor Everett, Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon – different players seeing action last year.
In Swearinger, Washington gets a fifth-year veteran who has already 35 games over the course of his NFL career.
The South Carolina product has amassed 229 tackles with 19 passes defensed, six interceptions, three fumbles recovered and three sacks.
During the 2016 season with the Arizona Cardinals, Swearinger appeared in all 16 regular season games with 12 starts, recording 66 tackles with career highs in passes defensed (eight), interceptions (three) and sacks (two).
"He can cover in situations but overall he is a veteran that knows angles and knows his site line," said Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said this week. "It will help Su'a [Cravens] a little bit who is going to be playing safety. I got a veteran guy back there who has some speed who is a downhill guy that can tackle in space which is what we are looking for."
2. He's actually 25 years old, not 27 years old.
Through his first few seasons in the NFL, the Elias Sports Bureau had Swearinger's birthday slightly off on their files.
Swearinger was born on Sept. 1, 1991, and is currently 25 years old. But Elias accidently had him listed at 27 years old instead of 25.
It has since been corrected:
3. He's always worn No. 36 because Sean Taylor did during his rookie season in Washington.Dating back to his high school days, Swearinger has worn No. 36 on the football field in part because Taylor did during his rookie season with the Redskins in 2004 (Fred Smoot wore No. 21 that year).
As a young safety trying to pave his way as a hard-hitting, attitude-adjusting player, Swearinger took after Taylor all the way down to wearing the same number.
He continued to wear No. 36 at South Carolina as he did with the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals during his stints with those three teams.
"He was a rookie year was my freshman year and he had No. 36 so I got 36, which is actually a family number that my dad and uncle wore," Swearinger said. "The No. 36 has stuck with me since then. I was a quarterback wearing No. 36 [in high school] after our quarterback got hurt."
Cravens, of course, wore No. 36 during the 2016 season. He hinted this week that a new number might be in his future.
4. He's now reunited with a well-known high school teammate.
Swearinger will have a familiar face roaming the field with him this season in the form of fellow Greenwood (S.C.) High School product Josh Norman.
The two actually played together for two seasons and helped the Eagles win a state title in 2006.
"We won the state championship in South Carolina in my sophomore year and his senior year," Swearinger said. "He had like nine interceptions and I had like six. Both of us played safety together."
During the 2015 NFC Championship Game, Swearinger and Norman represented Greenwood from opposite sides, as Norman's Panthers came out on top over the Cardinals to advance to Super Bowl 50.
"What an honor it is for the city of Greenwood," said Greenwood head coach Shell Dula. "You are going to have 106 football players dressed for the NFC Championship Game, and two of them are going to be from Greenwood, South Carolina. In their most recent meeting, the two high school friends exchanged jerseys this past season when the Redskins faced off against the Arizona Cardinals.
5. He's a huge fan of gummies.
Here's another thing Swearinger and Norman have it common. Apparently they both enjoy gummies as a sugary treat.
"DJ just loves gummy bears," Swearinger's mom told 247sports.com in 2012. "Just loves them. He is a gummy bear junkie. I don't know if people think of football payers having a sweet tooth but he loves those things…if you ever go into his room I guarantee you he will have a giant bag of them."
Norman's love for gummies made the news last season when Ziggy Hood confused to taking some out of his locker.
"Ziggy Hood's locker is on the other side like the West Wing. He came to the East side. I was like, 'Bro, how did you manage to even get over here?'" Norman said. "But the crazy thing is I keep them up here. Then it just came out of the blue. I think he felt bad about it. Great guy, he just felt a little bad about it, during the middle of the game, 'Bro I'm sorry, I ate your gummies.'"
Norman eventually got some gummies back when he received a box full of Lifesavers at his locker.
The box was shipped by the National Confectioners Association, otherwise known as Candy USA, and with it came a note from its Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs.