ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix endeared himself to the team's fan base in his first news conference, invoking his love for the team’s marching band, the late Sean Taylor and how excited he is to play here.
He can endear himself even more by making an impact on the field. Clinton-Dix, acquired from Green Bay for a fourth-round pick Tuesday, could play a role immediately because of injury concerns with starting safety Montae Nicholson. Sources described him as “banged up,” and he was not on the practice field Wednesday.
“I let my eyes do the talking for me,” Clinton-Dix said. “I watch guys like Micah and Casey leave Green Bay, who were phenomenal players who treated the game and approached the game as pros. To see their time come to an end in Green Bay, I can only imagine what my time would be like.”
It’s uncertain how much Clinton-Dix, who has three interceptions this season, will play Sunday vs. Atlanta or in what role. If Nicholson can play, he’d likely be paired with D.J. Swearinger at safety and Clinton-Dix as a third safety. The Redskins like that Clinton-Dix can play in the box or deep. They rotate their safeties based on formation or motion, though Swearinger has been most impactful in the box.
“Check this out, all right,” Clinton-Dix said. “I came here to play. I came here to work. Even if that’s on special teams or just helping contribute to this team any way I can, the No. 20 is going to be suited up this weekend. You can bet on that.”
And you can bet his fans will be happy he’s around. Certainly his new teammates will be happy, notably Swearinger. In a Week 3 game in Washington, Clinton-Dix intercepted quarterback Alex Smith and was chased out of bounds on the Redskins’ sideline. He ended up a couple of feet from Swearinger and, as Clinton-Dix said Wednesday, “dapped him up.” The two have long worked out together in the offseason.
“Two men who love this game who play for their families, who play for their friends, who play for their coaches, who play for their teammates,” Clinton-Dix said. “We had fun doing it. When you’re competing with a guy that loves the game as much as you do, you can never get bored in this league.
“I’m real close with him. I watch a lot of his games. I study his tape. I love the way he plays the game. There’s a lot I can learn from him. A lot of Bama guys out here, as well.”
That, of course, is a reference to his college days at Alabama. He played with Redskins defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. The Redskins have three other Alabama players on their defense: nose tackle Daron Payne and linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton and Ryan Anderson. Payne starts; Anderson is a key reserve. There’s a reason Clinton-Dix closed his presser by saying, “Roll Tide.”
But it was Clinton-Dix’s passion for Taylor that Redskins fans will appreciate. Taylor remains a popular figure here 11 years after his death. Clinton-Dix wore No. 21 in Green Bay, Taylor’s old number and one that hasn’t been worn by a Redskins player since his death in 2007.
“He’s one of the best in the game,” Clinton-Dix said. “He’s one of the best ever to play this game, and that’s not just for money but for love of the game. He’s a leader. He didn’t talk much, but he led by example and he set great examples. That’s someone you want to admire, someone you want to feed off of. There’s no way I can be Sean Taylor, but he’s a guy I look up to and I model my game after him.”
Clinton-Dix also said he always enjoyed the Redskins Marching Band in his three trips to Washington.
“I always stuck my head in there and told them thank you and how much I appreciated them,” Clinton-Dix said. “Just coming back here now and being part of it really means a lot to me.”
Now the task is for the 5-2 Redskins to keep playing good defense and stay in front of the NFC East.
“My leadership, my hustle to the ball, my effort -- you can’t control effort,” Clinton-Dix said on what he adds. “Just being able to go get the ball, create turnovers, take this team to another level and keep this thing going.”