DeAngelo Hall Looking Forward To Covering Dez Bryant
The cornerback had success matching up against the receiver in the final game last season, and considering the Cowboys’ success in the passing game, it’s a matchup Hall wants again.
BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN – Though the exact nature of cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s defensive responsibilities on Sunday hasn’t yet been decided, he’s likely to see extensive time matched up against Dez Bryant.
“I think DeAngelo kind of thrives in these situations, Sunday night and the lights, all that,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Thursday. “Good players usually do.”
Bryant, the Cowboys’ leading receiver, already had 29 catches for 423 yards and six touchdowns in five games this season. Twice, including Sunday’s 51-48 loss to the Broncos, Bryant has gained 141 receiving yards.
He had eight catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the Thanksgiving game against the Redskins last season, including an 85-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter where Bryant came loose downfield on an off-schedule play.
Bryant’s effectiveness in that game, a 38-31 victory by the Redskins, came against a variety of coverages – sometimes with Hall on him, and others where he was the responsibility of fellow cornerback Josh Wilson or safeties Reed Doughty or Madieu Williams.
The Redskins changed their plan in the final game of the regular season, with Hall guarding Bryant exclusively. The receiver caught only four passes for 71 yards – gains of 23, 17, 16 and 15 yards – and was kept out of the end zone as Washington won, 28-18, at home.
“I feel like he’s definitely one of the best receivers in the game, so whenever I get a chance to go play against him – you know, when we’re on the field, it’s he hates me, I hate him,” Hall said.
Hall watched the Cowboys’ game against the Broncos on Sunday, and as a group, the defensive backs talked about Bryant’s performance early Monday. Of particular bother to Hall was that Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was assigned to cover Bryant, occasionally gave the receiver a cushion that he could easily exploit.
“I felt like he was in good position a couple times, but just kind of not knowing that Dallas offense he kind of eased up for one second,” Hall said. “And you ease up for one second, it can be six or 70 yards or 80 yards later, and that’s what happened a couple times to Denver’s secondary.”
Haslett said stopping the passing game won’t be solely predicated on shutting down Bryant, given that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has made a career out of extending plays with his feet and has found another reliable target in tight end Jason Witten.
Still, Haslett referred to the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Bryant as “a beast” – one Hall would like to slay.
“He’s a hell of a football player,” Hall said. “But you know, between the lines, it’s me against him. He’s trying to rip my head off. I’m trying to rip his off. This will definitely be a good game.”