Deshazor Everett looks forward to being special teams captain
RICHMOND Deshazor Everett grinned ear-to-ear when he heard the question and askedthe reporter to repeat it. Make no mistake, the Redskins safety understood it the first time.
“How does it feel being a captain?”
“Captain,” Everett said, nodding his head while retaining his smile. “You just accept the leadership responsibility.”
The backup safety, whose biggest impact in three years in the NFL has come on special teams, takes over as special teams captain this season after Niles Paul departed in free agency.
Coach Jay Gruden has emphasized the need for the Redskins’ special teams to get better and now Everett will be leading the pack.
With his expected promotion its not yet official Everett will now be the personal protector, or the man responsible for protecting the punter.
Hes already taken on the additional tasks expected of a captain.
“Coach puts some things on me to make sure the other guys are ready to go,” Everett said. “I’m always up first in the drill to do it right to show more for the other guys. It’s more than just leadership on the field. ... I just try to be the older guy that everybody looks after.”
Everett actually played a career-high 589 defensive snaps last season, starting eight of 14 games alongside safety D.J. Swearinger. But the 26-year-old is expected to see less playing time this upcoming season with starter Montae Nicholson now healthy.
That means if Everett wants to contribute, he’ll have to do it on special teams. Everett, though, doesn’t mind. He said special teams is one of the hardest parts of the NFL because “you might transform from offense to defense in the same play.”
In 2017, the Redskins’ special teams ranked 22nd, according to a Football Outsiders metric. The analytics-based website creates a formula that combines kickoffs, field goals, extra points, punts, punt returns with other factors like altitude and weather.
Advanced stats aside, the unit lacked a number of game-changing or eye-popping plays over the course of last season.
“I’d like to see our special teams improve quite a bit,” Gruden said in December last season. “I’d like to see some type of momentum-swinging type plays a blocked kick or return or something like that, get ’em jump-started a little bit.”
Everett said the special teams need to be a “game-changing factor,” one that can swing games by adding a touchdown to take a load off the offense and defense. He added the coverage needs to be better, so they aren’t letting 70-yard punts go to waste.
But Everett will enjoy the challenge. He said he has to step up with Paul, who spent eight years with Washington, in Jacksonville.
“That’s a big part of my game, Everett said of playing special teams. “That’s the only way I’m still here.”