Exactly one year ago, NC State cornerback
Fast-forward through the 2013 NFL Draft and Amerson has already seen NFL elites Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
On the back end of the Redskins defense, he has already defended the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jordy Nelson and Calvin Johnson, three dominant, yet distinctly different playmakers.
At times he has flashed savvy beyond his years, making touchdown-saving tackles and using the sideline to his advantage in one-on-one matchups. But other times, he has looked a lot like a rookie, taking the wrong angle to the ball, whiffing on interceptions or failing to wrap up on a tackle.
“I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve also had some positives,” he said. “You just have to learn from the mistakes and build off of the positives and you’ve got to go from there. Put the past behind you and get better.
“Anytime I have a chance to get on the field and play, I’ve got to take advantage of it. Obviously I’m happy about it and I just look forward to taking advantage of opportunities.”
David Amerson has appeared in all three games so far, starting three, collecting 14 tackles and four passes defensed.
The Washington Redskins coaching staff sees the impact of his mistakes under a microscope, but appreciates the development of the young corner.
“Young guys are going to make mistakes; we all know that,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “You want those mistakes to be full-speed. Sometimes it’ll be communication. Sometimes we didn’t give them the proper reps during the week.
“You want them to feel good about themselves and go in there with a lot of confidence. These two young guys (Amerson and safety
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says Amerson has the physical tools necessary to defend the top receivers in the league. Now he just needs the rookie to catch up to game speed.
“He can cover most of the guys I have seen so far…with ease. He does a nice job,” Haslett said earlier this season. “We did some drills with him the other day and I think he’s got such good speed and length that even if someone does get behind him and he doesn’t panic.
“He’ll catch up and when the guy puts his arms up, he’ll put his hands in between them and he’ll be fine.”
In addition to the tutelage of the coaching staff, Amerson has had the benefit of playing alongside former Pro Bowlers
“As teammates we always pick each other up, whether you’re a veteran or a rookie,” Amerson said. “You always got to pick your teammates up if you’re down in a situation.”
One area of concern for the entire defense has been the missed and broken tackles. With the significant increase in competition from the ACC to the NFL, Amerson views midseason work is an opportunity to sharpen his technique and mechanics.
“I think it just comes down to really just understanding angles and really putting yourself in good positions and reading your keys and kind of getting to the ball quicker,” he explained. “Not putting yourself in bad situations with 10 yards of space with open field [against] an elite athlete.
“Really you’ve got to put yourself in good situations where you can simplify a tackle.”
Simplification is the name of a game for a player that has been in a whirlwind since declaring for the draft at the end of last season. As the world spins faster around him, Amerson looks for ways to slow the game down.
“Really just getting adjusted to all of the mental parts that go into the game and all the audibles,” he explained. “Got to be locked in at all times and understanding film, understanding formations and understanding the route concepts. It’s the mental part.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s harder [than I expected]l; you just really got to lock in and know what you’ve got to do and tune everything out.”
Amerson has played a fair amount of one-on-one coverage off the bench so far this year, which has yielded a mixed bag of results.
“As a corner that’s all you really get. You really just got to learn how to deal with it,” he said. “You’re out there on an island just about every play so it’s something you really got to get used to.”
Like his veteran teammates, Amerson knows that one win can help turn around an unexpected start to the season. With the boost in confidence, he believes the Redskins will be right back on track.
“Confidence has a big deal to do with anything as an athlete,” he said. “You get your heart beating a little bit and get active out there, big things can happen out of that.”