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'Skins' Hall earns team of admirers

ASHBURN, VA. — ASHBURN, Va. - Before John Hall had attempted his first field-goal try for the Redskins, he had already won over his teammates.

Linebackers Jeremiah Trotter and LaVar Arrington said they knew Hall differed from other kickers when Hall attended offseason workouts with the rest of the players.

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"We were out there doing the drills, and he was right out there with us like he was going to play 80 snaps a game," Trotter said of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound kicker. "That really impressed me."

Arrington said he likes Hall so much that he would allow the kicker to wear his No. 56 jersey if he wanted to.

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"J-Hall means a lot to me," Arrington said, noting that the defensive players gave Hall a burgundy defensive jersey to wear during practices. "He makes things happen for us. He's a great addition."

It is that kind of respect that Hall has generated from his Washington teammates since his arrival from the New York Jets as the franchise's 11th kicker since 1998.

It didn't hurt that Hall kicked three field goals in the Redskins' 16-13 season-opening victory over the Jets - including a game-winning 33-yarder with five seconds left.

For Hall, nothing is as gratifying - or as stressful - as a pressure-filled, game-breaking field goal attempt.

"I do enjoy them," he said of his seventh career game-winning field goal. "You saw what happened the other night. The place went nuts, and I was tremendously fortunate to be in that situation."

Hall wasn't always this popular. Despite averaging more than 108 points in six seasons with the Jets, Hall wasn't seriously pursued by New York when his contract ran its course.

That left the door open in March for team owner Daniel M. Snyder to sign Hall to a five-year, $7.1 million contract. Vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said Hall was the No. 1-rated kicker on Washington's wish list this past offseason.

Although Hall's career field-goal percentage of .738 (152 field goals in 206 attempts) bettered the combined average of the Redskins' kickers in five of the past six seasons, questions about his consistency arose.

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"People had question marks," said Redskins special teams coach Mike Stock. "They didn't think he was going to be worth what we paid for and all that. But certainly what he has showed in one game at least, he is everything that we expected."

Hall said he doesn't pay attention to the doubters. In fact, he said he doesn't get much attention at all.

Asked if his heroics against the Jets had made him the center of attention from local fans, Hall replied, "No one really knows who I am. It's actually pretty nice."

Hall's distaste for the spotlight has also garnered the admiration of his teammates. Guard Randy Thomas, who spent four seasons with Hall in New York before moving to Washington, also as an unrestricted free agent, said Hall has never sought praise and prefers to do his job in private.

Punter Bryan Barker, Hall's holder, said he has been most impressed with the kicker's rock-like determination to avoid showing emotion.

"That's the sign of a true professional," Barker said. "You don't get too high with the good, and you don't get too low with the bad. That's the only way you'll survive in this league."

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That's why Hall has already forgotten about the game against the Jets as the Redskins prepare to visit the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday.

"It's over," he said. "We've got another game to play this week."


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