He was a throw-away, a discard, unwanted and disregarded.
For the Tampa Bay Bucs, however, safety D.J. Swearinger might end up being a keeper.
Swearinger had two interceptions in Wednesday’s Bucs’ practice, once again making a bid to be a starter in the new Tampa Bay secondary. Swearingrer, a former No. 2 draft pick who was released by the Texans in the off-season, comes with low expectations. His former team was unable to trade him, after all.
But Swearinger has been, well, kind of a ball hawk.
“Not kind of a ball hawk,” Swearinger said. “I am a ball hawk. I see myself as a playmaker, first and foremost, whether it’s taking the ball out of the running back’s hands, jarring the ball loose or having to go get an interception, you’ve got to be a playmaker in this league.”
For the Bucs, that would be a relief. There simply weren’t enough plays made by the safeties on last year’s team: Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. A recent survey by Sports Illustrated had both of them on the NFL’s all-overrated team.
That has left Tampa Bay with safety Bradley McDougald and either Swearinger, injured Chris Conti or Major Wright.
Swearinger, so far, seems to be making an impression.
“He has been making plays maybe three days in a row or so. He had a good strip attempt in the game,” Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith said. “D.J. is a good football player. It’s one thing for us to say you are a good football player. We do need to see production on the field and we are taking notice.”
For Swearinger, it’s that simple. Make them notice. Every day.
“Just bring hard work,” Swearinger said. “I’m going to work hard every day, in the classroom and out here on the field. I’m going to jell with my teammates well and I’m going to try my best to lead and be an example for everybody.
“I’m hoping for a successful season. Super Bowl is the main goal, but you’ve got to take one day at a time. Every day we’ve got to get better and as a full team, full group we’ve got to strive for excellence.”