Safety D.J. Swearinger had been out of a job for a while. After he was released by the Arizona Cardinals after the fourth game this season in late September – though he had started all four games – Swearinger kept himself in shape and waited for his next opportunity.
This past weekend, that came when the Raiders signed him to replace starting strong safety Karl Joseph, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Raiders’ victory over the Chargers last Thursday night.
Now, the Raiders are preparing to play the winless Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, and Swearinger is getting set to get back on the field for the first time in about two months.
The 28-year-old former South Carolina standout was a second-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2013 and is in his seventh NFL season, having been a starter in 70 of his 94 pro games. He has 14 career interceptions, including four each in 2017 and 2018 when he was a full-time starter in Washington. His tenure in Arizona lasted just four games, when he was told by coaches the team wanted to go with younger players.
"I think they pulled the trigger too early and didn’t really give me time to settle in with the defense," Swearinger told a writer for the Raiders website this week.
Swearinger is expected to get playing time behind starting strong safety Erik Harris and free safety Lamarcus Joyner. Swearinger says he’s excited to join a team with a charismatic head coach in Jon Gruden, a lot of young players and a team personality he describes as having "grit."
"It starts with the head coach," he told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. "I love the head coach. I’ve always loved Coach Gruden from way back in college, from him doing (Monday night telecasts). I like what he brings to football, being on a team with a coach like that, I know we’re going to bring it every time we step on the field."
Swearinger believes he’s adapting well in Oakland, where the defensive scheme and terminology are similar to Arizona’s.
With Joseph out, as well as first-round pick Johnathan Abram, safety is a position of need as Oakland, 5-4, hopes to make a drive to a playoff spot.
Said Gruden: "We need the very best of Swearinger."
The winless Bengals and Raiders are set for a 1:15 p.m. kickoff Sunday in Oakland.