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D.C. Defenders Sign NFL Vets, WR Chad Hansen, And CB Michael Joseph

The D.C. Defenders continue their recent flurry of roster activity, adding NFL veterans WR Chad Hansen and CB Michael Joseph. D.C. also announced that WR Jazz Ferguson had been placed on the team’s reserve list due to a hamstring injury.

Hansen and Joseph will wear numbers #16 and #15, respectively, for D.C.

Jazz Ferguson was a fourth-round selection by the Defenders in the offensive skill draft in November. His hamstring injury is not believed to be season-ending. However, per XFL rules, if he is cleared to play later this year since D.C. placed him off the active roster and onto the reserve list. He is free to sign with another XFL team if healthy.

Reggie Barlow’s Defenders squad has added eight new players in the last week. D.C. Director of Player Personnel Von Hutchins has been hard at work fine-tuning the Defenders’ roster with experienced NFL players as the team inches closer to opening their season at Audi Field on Sunday, February 19th, against the Seattle Sea Dragons.

XFL co-owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who earlier this week teased on social media that he would be at D.C.’s home opener, has coined the mantra of ‘Player 54′ to exemplify the type of players who will be playing in the XFL. The Defenders’ latest two signings fit that description very well.

D.C. Defenders Snag Veteran Wide Receiver Chad Hansen

Hansen, 28, a first-team All-Pac 12 selection at Cal in 2016, has had a well-traveled NFL career, initially drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets in 2017. The 6’2, 200lb pass-catcher has spent time with eight different NFL teams since then. Hansen has played in 20 NFL games, netting three starts and recording 26 receptions for 330 yards and one touchdown.

Despite his impressive college resume. Hansen has functioned as mostly a reserve player on practice squads throughout his pro career. In 2020, Hansen finally got his shot at extended playing time with the Houston Texans.

As a practice squad elevation in December of that season, Hansen had his best NFL outing against the Indianapolis Colts, with five receptions for 101 yards. The effort solidified an active roster spot for him in Houston for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. Seventeen of Hansen’s 26 career receptions came during that stretch. However, despite his best efforts, it wasn’t enough to change his status as a fringe player.

Chad Hansen would move on to the Detroit Lions in 2021 and then the Atlanta Falcons in 2022. The XFL and the D.C. Defenders will provide the former Cal standout the prime opportunity to get the significant playing time that has eluded him in six NFL seasons.

Hansen is entering the XFL amid training camp, but from a player profile standpoint, he has the talent to make an impact early on with D.C., No matter how challenging the task will be to start on opening day.

After all, Hansen has a history of earning his path the hard way. He originally started his playing journey at Idaho State before transferring to Cal-Berkeley as a walk-on. However, it took a while for him to make his mark with the Golden Bears. As a Junior, Hansen finally broke through with 92 receptions for 1,249 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The XFL could be Chad Hansen’s chance to break out in the pros as a regular weekly contributor on offense.

Defenders Sign NFL Veteran Cornerback Michael Joseph

Division III star Michael Joseph has had a similar pro career ark as WR Chad Hansen. But his journey into college stardom and the NFL was as improbable as one could imagine.

Very few players have overcome the odds the way Michael Joseph has in his playing journey. The Illinois native was a virtual no-star recruit who went from an undersized and overlooked prep to NFL Draft hopeful, thanks to his improbable and transformative starring turn on the D-III level.

The University of Dubuque cornerback went from a barely there college reserve to receiving the Cliff Harris award. An honor that is reserved for the nation’s top-small college defensive player.

Despite going undrafted, Joseph’s late run in college, combined with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl, the NFL combine, and workouts during the NFL Draft Process. He was able to find his way into the league with the Chicago Bears.

The 6’1, 190lb cornerback has resided on the Bears’ roster on and off since 2018, seeing action in one game for Chicago in 2021. The Bears waived Joseph from injured reserve this past October. Seemingly ending the 27-year-old’s exceedingly improbable run in the NFL.

Defying and overcoming the odds has become a trademark feature for Michael Joseph. He gets to continue his defiance in D.C. with the Defenders. In Gregg Williams’s defense, Joseph has a chance to shine. He has the profile that Williams prefers in terms of his length and press-man skills.

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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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