In college, Bacarri Rambo had a reputation for excelling on the football field and occasionally finding trouble off of it.
But when the safety showed up at Redskins Park for rookie minicamp last week, he was quick to make one thing clear: He intends to leave all of that unwanted baggage at Georgia.
“I’ve moved on from that,” Rambo said when a reporter asked him about the two drug-related suspensions he served as a Bulldog. “I’m not worried about that. That’s my past and I can’t really do nothing about that.”
The infractions caused him to plummet from a projected third or fourth rounder to the sixth round, where the Redskins selected him with the 191st pick. The slide was a humbling experience for Rambo. It also seems to have been a motivating experience.
“It started once I walked through those doors and I became a Redskin,” Rambo said, asked about the importance of proving to Coach Mike Shanahan and his staff that he’s committed.
Rambo added: “I just believe in myself. I have confidence in myself. I know what I can do. I know I’m not the best. But I can be the best once I improve and get better in my weaknesses and still get better in my strengths.”
In 36 starts at Georgia, Rambo was known as a big hitter and ball-hawk, defending 35 passes and recording 16 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. And it didn’t take long for him to show off those ball skills in Ashburn. During the final practice of the three-day minicamp, a pass deflected off a receiver’s hands and, without a hint of hesitation, Rambo raced in and seized the ball.
“I feel like I can get in there and create turnovers,” he said. “I want to be the greatest at my position. I know there are things I need to improve on, like tackling and taking better angles.”
Rambo acknowledged that his biggest weakness is tackling. Indeed, scouting reports note that he has a tendency to lunge for shoulder hits instead of wrapping up. The Redskins have also identified tackling as an area where he must improve during OTAs, minicamp and training camp.
“They [are] teasing me about my tackling,” Rambo said with chuckle. “I just got to show that I can tackle. Coach Raheem [Morris] and Coach [Richard] Hightower are doing a great job teaching me technique. They know that’s my weakness. They know that’s what I have to improve on. I’m soaking in everything and trying to do my best.”
Sixth rounders aren’t typically expected to start in their first season as a pro. And another safety, Phillip Thomas, was taken two rounds ahead of Rambo and appears to have an inside track on the vacant free safety job.
But Rambo isn’t hearing it. He's not ready to concede anything.
“Every job is open; this is business,” Rambo said, when told 21 of last year’s 22 starters are returning. “Every job is open. You have to go out there and do your best every day. You can’t take a day off.”