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. -- Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had quite a season in 2010. He returned a fumble for a touchdown to beat Dallas in the opener, tied an NFL record with four interceptions at Chicago, and concluded the campaign by winning Most Valuable Player honours in the Pro Bowl. Not bad. Last season? Different story. His three interceptions were fewer than he had in the 2010 game vs. Chicago alone. He didnt reach the end zone at all. And Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant victimized Hall with deep grabs on third-and-long for the decisive plays that dealt the Redskins two late defeats. "D-Hall is a magnet for the public eye," fellow starting cornerback Josh Wilson said. "He gets a lot of criticism sometimes. But youve got to look at the big picture. There are a lot of coverages where we look like we may have gotten beat, but its not our fault at all. Hes doing a great job." But will he keep doing it? Well, if you ask him, there are no worries. The three-time Pro Bowl pick acknowledges hes in need of a renaissance this season. Say no more. "I dont necessarily want to make up for it, but . do I want to go out and make plays," Hall asked. "Absolutely. Did I drop plays last year, or did I not make plays that I shouldve made? Yeah, I did. The opportunities were there, but I just didnt cash in on them." In an effort to get more plays from Hall, Washington defensive co-ordinator Jim Haslett has moved him on passing downs from covering a receiver on an "island" outside, to the slot inside. "Im probably not a great corner, but Im a great football player," Hall said. "To go in the slot gives me a chance to be a football player. Youve got to be a complete football player. Youve got to tackle. Youve got to pick passes off. Youve got to be able to read routes. "Im essentially the linebacker when were in nickel personnel. Theyve given me a lot of flexibility to just go out there and make plays. Youre closer to the action. A lot of times Im lining up at linebacker depth, showing blitz and kicking back out to coverage or Im showing like Im covering and getting down to a run gap." Collectively, the secondary was the weakest part of a Washington defence that soared from 31st in yards allowed in 2010 to 13th last year. Hall slumped. It took Wilson, a free-agent signee, most of the season to find his stride. Safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe were injured and ineffective. Neither was retained, prompting the additions of free agents Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson. However, Hall, the most outwardly confident of these Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32), is far from worried about how the unit will perform. "Last year, we were ranked in the top five at a certain point," he said. "Then things started going downhill, the turnovers stopped coming, we stopped making plays, we stopped getting off the field on third downs. They started picking up a lot of first downs on us. It got frustrating. We finished 13th. To come from 31st to 13th is a big jump, and we feel like were poised for another big jump." Coach Mike Shanahan believes in Hall. At this point, he likely doesnt have any other choice, but he believes nonetheless. Hall, whos heading into his ninth season but wont turn 29 until November, can bounce back ... and the coach knows it. "You dont have great years every year," Shanahan said. "I think hes energized. (DeAngelo) has great ball skills. If he sees the ball coming in his area, hes going to intercept it." NOTES: Fullback Darrel Young and receiver Josh Morgan remain sidelined with strained hamstrings. ... The Redskins, 5-11 last season, open the preseason at Buffalo on Sept. 9. Terrell Suggs Jersey
. Li Na of China returns a shot to Italys Mara Santangelo during their match at the Birmingham Classic tennis tournament in Birmingham, central England, June 16, 2007. [Reuters] The 25-year-old became the first Chinese to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam tournament on her first appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon last year. Andy Dalton Jersey
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. The Cubs stopped their 12-game losing streak, getting a boost from Alfonso Sorianos go-ahead home run to beat the San Diego Padres 11-7 Monday.Greetings from Phoenix, AZ! Its an off day here with the Toronto Raptors. Actually, a bit chilly here today with a bunch of clouds - no poolside prep for me. Here are Five NBA Thoughts for you. 1. WESLEY MATTHEWS (Trail Blazers) - I saw him on Friday night vs the Raptors. Hell never be the best player on the floor yet he wont be the worst either - far from it. Think about it; he came out of Marquette undrafted. A great get for Utah GM Kevin OConnor (one of the unheralded GMs in the NBA) and then signed as a free agent for Portland. Good lockdown defender who competes hard and does everything offensively relatively well. Just goes to show that there are good players out there who dont get the hype and get the high draft pick that cannot only play, but help you win. Case in point! 2. DEANDRE JORDAN (Clippers) - Wow! Saw him yesterday - hes a beast! By the way, hes a second round pick - another example of good scouting by a team. He runs the floor great for a big fella. He blocks and alters shots, he rebounds on both ends and hell finish at the rim. Hes tough-minded and has an intimidating presence. He needs to improve his FT% - its less than 50% - but beyond that he was a good pick and re-signing by the Clips. I would love him on my team any day of the week. 3. STAN VAN GUNDY (Magic) - I gotta tell ya, beyond the big fella - Dwight Howard - this is a flawed and incomplete roster with very little quality depth. In spite of the entire media circus surrounding Dwight Howard and his childish acting out on a few occasions, things have remained stable in Orlando. Why? Theyve got a terrific coach. I used to work with him when we were assistant coaches together during the 1987-88 season at Fordham University and have stayed friends with him ever since. Friendship aside, the man can coach each phase of the game, and do it well. He surrounds Howard with shooters, excellent ball movement and they guard you better than youd think. Chris Johnson Jersey
. Do I think theyre deep playoff material? No, not talented enough. But pound-for-pound, he gets as much out of his teams as anyone on a consistent basis. He actually gets Hedo (Raptors fans, you remember him?) to play to his potential. If I were ever a GM and needed a coach and he was available, Id hire him in a heartbeat. 4. LA LAKERS (10-8) - If the season were to end today (thankfully it wont) the Lakers would be the 10th seed in the Western Conference and out of the playoffs. Talk about surprising. Do I see them bouncing back? Sure! Do I see them with the current roster able to compete late into June? Doubtful. Issues galore exist and not sure how they improve their club with limited trade pieces unless they want to shop Pau Gasol again or they can pull off the Andrew Bynum-Dwight Howard trade. The desperation and pressure are going to build there and it will be interesting to see if they are willing to be bold and make major moves or try to go with minor tweaks and hope for the best. Time is ticking for Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher is fading. Tough decisions lie ahead. 5. TORONTO RAPTORS, MUST WIN TIME - Catching the Suns tomorrow here in Phoenix coming back from a five-game road trip playing the Raptors on a back-to-back after they play at Dallas tonight. A perfect time to catch them. Games at Utah on a back-to-back and at Denver & New Jersey wont be easy. In my opinion, the most winnable game on the schedule. They gotta get it and change the losing vibe around the team. A sense of urgency has to be there from the start. The team has been tough to watch play in the first quarter. They cant continue to play from behind, it doesnt work for a team as limited as Toronto. Amir Johnson-Ed Davis-DeMar DeRozan-James Johnson - they need to see some consistency and productivity. They need a lot more from each. Enough about each guys potential - produce! ' ' '