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Falcons Pro Bowler Hall wants to play 'O'

DeAngelo Hall is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Apparently, that's not enough.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (Aug. 9, 2006) -- DeAngelo Hall is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Apparently, that's not enough.

The Atlanta Falcons star wants to show what he can do on the other side of the line, and he might just get a chance to go both ways this season.

"The offense gets the glory," Hall said.

The Falcons have given the 2005 Pro Bowler some snaps at receiver during training camp, though the transition was put on hold the past few days while Hall dealt with some soreness in his fingers.

"I actually jammed them on defense. You never jam a finger on offense. Those guys are the pretty boys of the league," he quipped. "Us defensive guys have to work a little bit harder, touch a lot more shoulder pads and things like that."

Make no mistake: Atlanta won't do anything to hinder Hall's performance at cornerback after the 2004 first-round pick made six interceptions in just his second pro season.

He's one of those rare defenders who can be left one-on-one against the game's elite receivers, a cocky, swaggering player who brings plenty of attitude to a defense that bulked up this year by acquiring John Abraham and Lawyer Milloy.

"Really, DeAngelo is a defensive guy," quarterback Michael Vick said. "When he comes over to practice with us, that's just a bone we get. He solely belongs to the defense. That's where he makes his plays. That's where he'll go to the Pro Bowl."

But Vick is thrilled every time he sees Hall switch his jersey from white (the defensive color) to red (which the offense wears). They've already gotten a chance to work together a few times in practice, and the quarterback is firmly convinced that he'll be throwing to Hall at some point this season.

"He practices plays like he's been there forever," Vick said. "When he comes into our huddle and we call a play, he knows exactly what to run. He may not run the best routes in the world, but you've got to give a guy like that the ball. He's just an athlete."

Besides, the receiving corps took a major blow when Brian Finneran, who led Atlanta's wideouts with 50 catches, went down in the early days of camp with a season-ending knee injury.

Even though the Falcons already were contemplating ways to use Hall on offense before Finneran got hurt, they may have to get even more creative if they want to bolster a passing game that ranked 27th in the league.

Maybe that's where Hall comes in.

"If he decided to be a receiver, I think he could be in the Pro Bowl in a year or two at that position," coach Jim Mora said. "I know that may sound like a huge overstatement, but he's got great athletic ability and he's a great competitor. I wouldn't put anything past him."

Hall did some two-way duty at Virginia Tech, mostly in his final season, and finished his college career with eight catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.

He won't replace Finneran, but he might soften the blow.

"It's unfortunate what happened to Brian, but maybe it opened the door a little bigger for me to play offense," Hall said. "Instead of just a crack, it's probably much more open now."

Atlanta has used Hall to return punts -- another way to get the ball in his hands -- but there's no guarantee that the other team will kick to him. The Falcons are much more in control of things when they're the ones calling the plays.

Then again, Mora wants to make sure he doesn't wear Hall out.

So, how many offensive plays could Hall play in a game? Fifteen sounds about right to Mora, who stressed that it would be even fewer if Hall was forced to do a lot of running in the secondary.

Hall put aside his bravado just a bit to concur with his coach.

"Don't ask me, because I feel I could play the whole game both ways," he said. "But realistically, 15 to 20 plays is probably about the most I should do."

Just don't ask him to be a gimmick receiver. Hall isn't looking to be a guy who steps on the field solely to run a reverse or some other trick play before heading back to the sideline. He wants to be used the same way as the full-time receivers.

If the play calls for the receiver to deliver a block, he wants to block. If the play calls for the receiver to make a tough catch over the middle, he wants to make it.

"If you're not doing those things, what's the point of going out there?" Hall said. "You have to be one with the offense if you hope to get things done."

Hall is unlikely to play any receiver when the Falcons host New England in their first preseason game Aug. 11. But, if Vick has his way, it's just a matter of time before No. 7 is throwing to No. 21.

"Who knows when it's going to happen?" the quarterback said. "I just know that one of these weeks within the 16 weeks (of the regular season), we'll have a chance to get him on the offensive side to make some plays and give the crowd a different look."

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