Remember Deiondre’ Hall?
A year ago, Hall was an intriguing rookie cornerback — a fourth-round draft pick getting first-team reps because of injuries to Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and Bryce Callahan. And he was making plays in the preseason, using his long arms and athleticism to prevent pass completions against players such as Jeremy Maclin and Josh Gordon. Even after he was burned for a 58-yard completion to Tyreek Hill against the Chiefs, he responded with an interception the next series.
But Hall has been virtually invisible in this year’s camp. He’s learning on the job as he transitions to safety and he’s buried on the depth chart in a secondary that appears significantly upgraded at both cornerback and safety. He’s played 45 snaps in three games, just 14 against the Titans last week.
He was going to be in a tough spot at cornerback after the Bears signed Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency. But safety is crowded as well, and Hall could be battling second-year safety Deon Bush for a roster spot. Both players have practice-squad eligibility.
“I wouldn’t say I’m too much concerned,” Hall said. “I’m trying to make the team like everybody else — trying to make the 53-man. I think what plays into it more so is the versatility, and special teams as well — being able to do more than just one thing.”
Versatility indeed could be Hall’s ticket. “When you get to picking your final team,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said, “if you can keep nine or 10 DBs, it’s good if somebody’s a swing guy that can play safety and corner. Saves you a roster spot that could be very beneficial.”
The paradox for Hall, though, is that while he’s making himself more versatile, he hasn’t been able to show a key element in playing safety — tackling. There’s little to no live tackling in practice. And he’s had few opportunities in games. Hall has one tackle (and two pass break-ups) in three preseason games.
Hall, who played safety at Northern Iowa, said he is comfortable at that position.
“It’s been smooth so far,” he said. “There have been a few rough spots with getting the small things corrected and being consistent with those things. Then just moving up the depth chart. We’re pretty deep in the secondary and starting a new position, I’ve got to start at the bottom and work my way up.”
Therein lies the big issue for Hall. Has he shown enough? The preseason finale is not as decisive as you would think. But for Hall, Thursday night’s game could be huge.
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