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D.C. Defenders Add Former NFL Draft Picks D.J. Swearinger, And Isaiah Johnson To Their Secondary

Ahead of their biggest game of the XFL season. A Sunday night clash with first-place stakes on the line in Seattle against the Sea Dragons. The D.C. Defenders have added two veteran NFL defensive backs to their roster. The Defenders have signed Safety D.J. Swearinger and Cornerback Isaiah Johnson.

In recent weeks, contending XFL teams have been in an arms race as they make their play toward the postseason.

For example, D.C.’s Week 8 opponent Seattle has recently signed Pro Bowl NFL RB Phillip Lindsay.

A week after allowing a team-high 37 points to the previously winless Guardians in Orlando. Defenders Director of Player Personnel Von Hutchins is reinforcing Greg Williams’s secondary.

To make room for the latest acquisitions, D.C. has moved C Michael Maietti and DB K.J. Sails to their reserve list. The Defenders have also brought back RB Pooka Williams, who spent time with the team earlier this season. Another move to get down to 51 players could be forthcoming.

Maietti has been one of the league’s best offensive linemen. The rookie All-SEC center from Missouri has been graded out as the Defenders’ top offensive player for the last three weeks by Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately, injuries have held him back in 2023. D.C. has three options for Maietti’s replacement, Veteran IOL Bruno Reagan, Ty Clary, and Liam Ryan, who all have experience on the pivot.

The Defenders’ offensive line has been arguably the best overall and most talented group in the XFL.

The KJ Sails injury hits the Defenders in two areas. In their secondary and on special teams. The return of RB/WR/KR Pooka Williams Jr. could be insurance for the latter. The signings of Swearinger and Johnson will help offset the loss of Sails.

D.C. Defenders Sign NFL Veteran Safety D.J. Swearinger

Veteran Safety D.J. Swearinger, 31, is a former All-SEC player out of South Carolina who the Houston Texans drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

The well-traveled hard-hitting hybrid defensive back has started 73 games over his NFL career. He’s registered 425 career tackles, 4.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 43 pass breakups, and 14 interceptions in 110 NFL games.

Swearinger has played for the Texans, Raiders, Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Washington, and the Arizona Cardinals.

The enigmatic DB, Swearinger, has had his share of controversies throughout his NFL run from 2013-2022. During his last time in the District with Washington in 2018, Swearinger infamously ripped his defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s playcalling after a loss. And despite leading the team in pass breakups, and interceptions, Washington decided to cut bait with the bold and outspoken Swearinger. He went from team captain to outcast very quickly.

Swearinger’s heart-on-his-sleeve mentality has undoubtedly ruffled some feathers throughout his career. But there’s no question that the Defenders are adding a passionate player to their defense.

On the Defenders, Swearinger is reuniting with former Washington teammate Safety Montae Nicholson. The versatile Swearinger will be playing for Defenders defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who figures to utilize him in various ways.

Defenders Sign 2019 Raiders 4th Round Draft Pick Cornerback Isaiah Johnson.

Defenders DPP Von Hutchins is bringing in a player he is very familiar with, former University of Houston standout Isaiah Johnson. Hutchins was the Raiders’ assistant director of pro scouting when then Oakland selected Johnson in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The 6’3, 210lb Johnson originally played wide receiver in college before transitioning to defensive back for his final two years at Houston. After drawing comparisons to Richard Sherman, another lanky former receiver, and blazing at 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine despite his limited body of work as a late bloomer in college. Isaiah Johnson became a rising star in the draft process.

Things haven’t broken right for Johnson throughout his NFL career, primarily due to injuries. After spending two years with the Raiders, he has been with five different NFL teams, and he was last with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022.

However, that doesn’t mean that Isaiah Johnson hasn’t shined or shown glimpses in NFL games of the promise he showed coming out of school.

In 2020, Isaiah Johnson broke up two potential game-deciding touchdowns in the closing seconds by Justin Herbert to beat the Chargers. Ironically enough, after preventing Mike Williams from scoring, Johnson broke up the final attempt intended for XFL 2020 standout Donald Parham Jr.

Johnson joins a Defenders team that has struggled with pass coverage down the field the last two weeks. He is an excellent fit for Greg Williams’s scheme as a press corner with elite speed. With crucial matchups in the next two weeks against two of the XFL’s deepest pass-catching corps in Seattle and St. Louis. The sooner D.C. can get Isaiah Johnson ready—the better.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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