Swearinger impressing with skills, swag at OTAs

Swearinger impressing with skills, swag at OTAs
May 22, 2013, 9:00 am
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D.J. Swearinger was the Texans' second-round pick out of South Carolina.

(USA Today Sports Images)

D.J. Swearinger read the quarterback, stretched his arm in front of the receiver and knocked the ball away over the middle of the field during a drill on Tuesday.  

Swearinger is a unique player on the field, even aside from his long dreads that cascade out of his helmet and his tied-up jersey, which exposes his mid-section during practice.

Even without those things, the safety would be easy to pick out. See, Swearinger is loud. He’s a presence on the field … even as a rookie still going through his first few practices as a Houston Texan.

So as the ball fell to the ground and began to bounce away after he broke up that pass, Swearinger, in one sweeping motion, crossed his arms and flung them apart.

The universal symbol for incomplete pass.

“Yeah,” Swearinger said while talking about that play. “It’s day-by-day and getting better everyday and showing these guys what I got, that I can play out here, just earning my respect.”

And so far, in the early going, Swearinger seems to have already started earning the respect of his veteran teammates.

“I like his attitude. He’s definitely a player,” starting cornerback Kareem Jackson said. “I had a chance to watch him a little bit in college, playing in the SEC. He’s definitely flying around out here. He’s catching on quick. It’s definitely exciting to see him progress and grow as a player. Looking forward to it, looking forward to him helping us this season.”

After being drafted in the second round, Swearinger was audibly excited about getting to work with Ed Reed, who is one of his football idols. As of Tuesday, he hadn’t talked to Reed yet but said he’s very much looking forward to working with and learning from him.

“He’s one of my idols and it will be a pleasure to get with him and talk to him and steal some of his knowledge,” he said.

Swearinger’s personality on the field is fun. He talks a lot. Sometimes he trash talks with receivers. During rookie camp, he went back and forth with friend and first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins, who grew up about 60 miles from Swearinger in South Carolina.

And he still remembers the time Hopkins beat him on a double-move in a game early in their college careers. Then, at rookie camp, Hopkins beat him on a play again and let Swearinger know about it.

“He made one big catch and when he came back on the sidelines, he sort of stared me down,” Swearinger said during rookie camp. “But it’s all good. We gon’ talk trash.”

Other times, when he’s not talking to the offense, he’ll talk to his defensive teammates. He’ll critique and talk about a play or he’ll congratulate himself or a teammate on a big play.

“Off the field, I’m sort of a cool, calm, collected. I like to have fun,” Swearinger said. “On the field, I’m always live. It’s just something that’s been that way.”  

Swearinger thrives on his physicality. He’s an intimidating force in the middle of the field. And that’s a part of his on-field persona too.

See, what it comes down to is that Swearinger has swagger.

In fact, his nickname is Swag and it has been since he was 8 or 9 years old playing AAU ball, he recalled on Tuesday. And the person who gave him that nickname? Debra Montgomery, the mother of Sam Montgomery, who was a high school teammate with Swearinger in Greenwood, S.C. and has been reunited with him in the NFL.

Swearinger has another nickname, which doubles as his Twitter handle too: JungleBoi Swagg.

“Tarzan was always my favorite cartoon character, so it fits,” he said.

But JungleBoi Swagg isn’t just a nickname or a Twitter handle, it’s also Swearinger’s rap name. Swearinger said he’s been rapping for a while now. It’s just something fun and he considers it a hobby.

He just released his first mixtape entitled “A League of Our Own” with fellow rapper Beg G, who Swearinger said was a friend of a college teammate. Both men appear on all 12 tracks.

Swearinger said he has fun rapping but it’s just a hobby, not a distraction or a future career path.

“I’ve got a little talent,” Swearinger said while cracking a smirk, “but it’s nothing serious. Right now, it’s all football.”