Off best game, Swearinger’s confidence growing

Off best game, Swearinger’s confidence growing
November 15, 2013, 4:45 pm
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3 and Out: Kubiak to coach from press box

D.J. Swearinger had just one thought before his first NFL interception on Sunday.

“I was just like ‘don’t try me,’” Swearinger said. “First thing I said in my head, ‘don’t try me.’”

Carson Palmer tried him.

And Swearinger picked off his pass intended for Rob Housler down the left sideline in the second quarter. It was Swearinger's first NFL interception.

“It was a confidence booster and I’m just ready to get out there and play the Raiders,” said the young rookie from South Carolina, who agreed that the game against the Cardinals was his best as a pro.

Yup, apparently Swearinger had room for more confidence.

The safety, who has started the last three games for the Texans, came into the NFL as a confident player. His nickname, which he’s had since his childhood in Greenwood, S.C., is swag. And it’s a pretty fitting nickname.

“I’ve always been the same guy and it’s just me getting comfortable,” Swearinger, “me getting in my comfort zone and once I’m comfortable, I’m back there being me.”

Swearinger said his loud, boisterous personality is contagious with his teammates. For years, his teammates have fed off of his leadership and playmaking ability. And all of that comes with a player who really seems to enjoy football.

“On and off the field, he’s just himself,” linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “He just loves playing this game and you can see it.”

How much does Swearinger love playing football?

“Words can’t describe how much I love this game,” he said with a grin.

Against the Cardinals, Swearinger had two passes defended and the interception to go along with three tackles. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said the game against the Cardinals was Swearinger’s best yet. But that’s nothing new. Phillips said Swearinger is getting better every game and Swearinger agreed that he’s been getting better as he’s been getting more comfortable.

“He plays 100 miles an hour every play,” Phillips said. “And the good thing about him is he’s really one of those players that doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Now, he makes rookie mistakes but the next time that comes up, he doesn’t make a mistake. I’m really encouraged about his talent and the way he’s played.”

Swearinger, 22, wasn’t supposed to be a starter as a rookie this season. Instead, Danieal Manning and Ed Reed were expected to be the starting safeties. Well, Manning is out of the season with an injury and Reed was demoted, then released.

While Swearinger has been forced into a starter’s role, he is using the advice from the two veterans.

“It’s different but I’m all for it, being a leader back there, leading this defense to do good things,” he said. “I appreciated the advice I got from both of them and I still stay in contact with both of them too.”

Both Manning and Reed have had long and successful careers in the NFL and it appears Swearinger is well on his way.

“He’s been a playmaker since Day 1,” fellow starting safety Shiloh Keo said. “I think everyone can vouch for that. He’s just coming into his own. He’s getting more and more reps each week and that’s helping him. He’s getting closer and closer to being that vet type of person. I think the more we play, the better he’s going to get and the more big plays you’re going to see out of him.”