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Quinton Dunbar Nabs First Interception In Victory

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Quinton Dunbar showed just how far he's come in his transition to cornerback on Sunday, stopping one of the Giants' drives in the third quarter with an interception in the end zone.

When Quinton Dunbar signed with the Washington Redskins in May, just days after going unselected in the 2015 NFL Draft, the former University of Florida wide receiver was thought by many to be nothing more than the typical training camp body.

Six months later, he made one of the biggest plays in the Redskins' biggest game since the 2012 season, intercepting Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the third quarter of a 20-14 victory that catapulted Washington to first place in the NFC East over New York.

Yes, a player at a position he hadn't played since high school picked off a two-time Super Bowl winner. And it was in the end zone, absolutely crushing the Giants' momentum in the third quarter.

"I mean it's just special to be in this moment, period," Dunbar said. "I grew up wanting to play in the NFL, now I'm here. I grew up watching Eli Manning, so and I made a play on him, so that's special to me."

On 3rd-and-goal from the Redskins' four-yard line, Manning tried to hit Rueben Randle – who scored in the first matchup of division foes in Week 3 -- on a slant route.

Instead of connecting for a touchdown, Dunbar jumped in front of the pass.

"He ran a snap and I knew he wasn't coming back outside," Dunbar said of Randle's route. "So I just undercut it and made a play on the ball."

In his weekly preparations for the Giants, Dunbar saw certain tendencies on situations like the third down play. They did it again on Sunday, leading to his first career interception.

"Like I said, he ran a breaking route and I knocked the ball down," Dunbar said. "That's all. It's film study all through the week."

While it would have been difficult for him to catch on as a wide receiver with veterans like Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in the fold, and with two draft picks in Ryan Grant and Jamison Crowder as well, the team saw potential in him on the defensive side of the ball.

After a trial run at cornerback during the preseason, the Redskins kept him on the practice squad. That would quickly change, though. 

He would be called up to the active roster after DeAngelo Hall suffered an injury and made his NFL debut on Oct. 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Although he would play on defense only sparingly over the next two months, Dunbar was once again asked to take a step up on Sunday, this time with an increase in action in place of Chris Culliver who was placed on Injured Reserve Friday with a torn ACL/MCL.

Check out these top defensive and special teams photos from the Washington Redskins' 2015 Week 12 matchup against the New York Giants Nov. 29, 2015, at FedExField.

"It just shows that hard work pays off, you can ask any of these guys, man" Dunbar said. "As soon as I came in, I worked hard, I competed everyday- especially at cornerback, I competed every day at cornerback. I just went out there and played."

As the weeks have gone on and as he has gotten additional reps against players like DeSean Jackson in practice and as he's had more time learning proper technique of a cornerback under defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, Dunbar's growth has steadily increased.  

"I [get] better every day at practice," Dunbar said. "You can ask any of them guys. I [am] on scout team, I [give the] offense a great look. Breaking my technique [has gotten better] and I just wanted to test it to see how hard I worked, was it really working. I mean, I was doing good in practice and I just wanted to try in a game and I did pretty good."

Veteran teammates have noticed his desire in becoming the best cornerback he can be in a quick amount of time. 

"Dunbar does a great job really receiving the coaching from all the coaches and players just trying to help him," Will Blackmon said. "In practice, he has improved every week. He probably gets two or three interceptions each week at practice. It carried over to the field."

His performance on Sunday, which included a key pass defense on the drive after his interception, showed what type of talent he has, too.

"He's a big, long kid. He's got some talent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "It's just a matter of him going out and playing. You just never know until you throw a guy out there. That's the fun part of coaching sometimes. You get to see how they do – some guys sink and some guys swim. Obviously, he's swimming pretty well right now, but he hurt his finger and we will have to get him evaluated. He's a guy that is going to continue to develop and hopefully get better and better."

Dunbar has two familiar faces with him inside the Redskins' locker room, as he played with Matt Jones and Jordan Reed at Florida.

Reed, who started his college career as a quarterback and ever threw a few passes to Dunbar, was just as excited as Dunbar was for his interception on Sunday.

"I'm glad that he's on the team," Reed said. "He's a great player and he got a lot of ability and he's going be a great player in this league."

Jones, meanwhile, said he gave Dunbar "a big hug, told him I love him." 

"He overcame a lot of stuff, just with transferring his position, at this point in time in his life, in his level, I've seen him work hard every day of practice," Jones said. "And work with Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson, working their routes, and it's paying off for him and I'm happy for him."

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