On Monday night, there will be three of the top cornerbacks in the league gracing the field at McAfee Coliseum when the Oakland Raiders face the Denver Broncos.
One of them, DeAngelo Hall, who was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons this off-season, sat down with Silver & Black Report reporter DeMarcus Davis and talked about his new life in Oakland, playing on Monday night versus the Broncos and his health status going into the contest.
SBReport: Do you get a sense that this Monday night game is a little more than just a regular season game due to it being against the Broncos?
D.Hall: I’m obviously new to the rivalry, but I see how the coaches are, how Al Davis definitely wants to first of all, lock up this division and worry about playoffs and things like that later. So to get out, first game of the season, primetime versus a division opponent, it’s huge.
Oakland has struggled in recent years stopping the run versus the Broncos. Mike Shanahan’s team has averaged 150.9 rushing yards per game since 2003 against the Raiders. But Hall sounded confident about that changing on Monday night. He stated, “People think we can’t stop the run. We got a couple of great additions to the team. We are ready to display it to the world out there.”
As for his health, “I’m pretty good to go. I practiced all week with nothing on it. Still a little tender, a little sore, but I feel good. It’s Monday night, primetime; I’ve played with broken bones and things like that before, so I’ll be all right.”
Hall sustained ligament damage to his right hand during the pre-season, and had to wear a protective cast.
It seems that the cast nor what the Broncos present in terms of their attack fear Hall, as the confident cornerback commented, “I take my chances against any receiver in this league. One-on-one I like my odds. I don’t think Denver posses any threats. So I’m just ready to go out there and have some fun.”
A victory in their home opener is just what Oakland would need to top off a busy off-season of acquisitions in hopes of turning around the 19-61 slump they have been in since the start of the 2003 season. The fans are eager to get a victory against the rival Broncos, but as SBReport pointed to Hall, a good game on Monday night will have fans embracing you quickly, but a poorest effort may make you an enemy.
Hall responded, “It’s a good thing I don’t mess up [smiling]. I guess that’s a good thing. I’m ready. I got thrown into the fire at 20-years old.”
His transition from Atlanta has been a smooth one, and Hall talked about his head coach’s involvement in getting him in Silver & Black.
“It’s been cool. Kiffin was a big part of me coming out here. He was the middle man between Al Davis and my agent, definitely a move he wanted to make on this team.”
He continue to talk about his situation in the off-season, and the direction the Falcons headed after they decided to purge the club and begin a rebuilding process. “That situation in Atlanta, it is what it is. There is a business side of this. Arthur Blank felt like he had to sort of part ways with a lot of the guys who had any association with [Michael Vick] or ay feelings towards him. So that’s what they felt they had to do for that organization to get better, you might be a little bit worse before you get better, but at the end of the day, if you feel that’s the move you need to make, that’s what you do.”
As for being in Oakland, “I’m in a great situation right now, great place, so I’m not complaining.”
With Hall, teammate Nnamdi Asomugha and Champ Bailey on the field on Monday, you can make the argument that either one is the best cornerback in the league or that they all rank among the top three at their position. Hall talked about the competitive nature of the trio and how they’ll try to impress their counterparts with their play.
“Its always friendly competition. [Bailey & Dre Bly] taught me so much about football, life in general. We are real good friends off the field. So its always friendly competition. I want to leave the game with better stats than them. I’m sure they want to, ‘hey I’m still the young pup’, ‘I’m still the guy’, I’m sure they are coming in here with the same chip on their shoulder.
I definitely go out there trying one-up [Bailey].”
And that friendly competition trickled onto the Raider practice field this summer, where Hall and his new corner mate pushed each other to help the secondary become one of the elite in the NFL.
“Even me and [Asomugha] on the same team, we try to one up each other. It’s always love and friendly dealings off the field, but I want to be better than him and at the end of the day, he wants to be better than me.”