FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Darren Hall will make his first start of the season Sunday in Cincinnati against an offense comprised of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Ja'Marr Chase, arguably one of the best wide receiver corps in the league.
Hall's elevation comes after veteran cornerback Casey Hayward suffered a shoulder injury in Week 6 against the San Fransisco 49ers, that led to him being placed on injured reserve. This will be the second start of his career since Week 17 in 2021 against the Buffalo Bills during his rookie campaign.
The second-year defensive back has seen significant reps throughout the first six weeks of the season, playing a vital role in the defense's overall success. According to Next Gen Stats, Hall was one of six cornerbacks that played at least 25 coverage snaps in Week 6 and only allowed one reception as the nearest defender.
Most notably, in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams when Hall forced a fumble on Cooper Kupp after punching the ball out and coming away with the recovery shortly after.
Against the 49ers, Hall made two crucial back-to-back plays batting down a deep pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to Brandon Aiyuk. On the very next play, Hall tipped Garoppolo's pass that led to an Jaylinn Hawkins interception.
"[We've] got a lot of confidence in Darren," head coach Arthur Smith said. "He's had a really good season up to this point and a really good camp so with all our guys, there's high expectation and I'm very pleased with Darren's progress."
Hall played 192 snaps in 2021 totaling 27 tackles, one sack and three pass deflections compared to the 85 snaps, eight tackles and two pass deflections he currently has this year.
Heading into Week 7, Hall sees the consistent progress he's been making from the start of the season to now as he looks to take that next step in his career.
"I was dealing with a couple of nagging injuries, however, getting back to myself, getting back to the confidence in myself and playing well," he said. "Every week I try to get better. Every day I try to get better at practice so just getting more reps in the defense is helping me be more comfortable out there at corner again"
Hall stepping up as first-team cornerback opposite side of A.J. Terrell adds to the number of young players being called upon to help anchor this Falcons team due to injuries. His physical style of play, as well as his agility and athleticism will be needed against a stout Bengals' offense on Sunday as the Falcons look for their fourth win of the season.
"I just play with confidence every play," Hall said. "I don't really get too high or too low. I stay level-headed every single play and just stay ready for every play that comes my way."
Take a look as the team puts in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.