Redskins rookie Amerson getting comfortable

Redskins rookie Amerson getting comfortable
June 13, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Like most draft picks getting a crash course on life as pro football player, David Amerson has experienced his share of ups and downs this summer.

But after more than a month of OTAs and minicamp practices at Redskins Park, the rookie and his coaches can now be confident about this: He possesses all of the tools needed to succeed as an NFL cornerback.

“I think I’ve come a very long way since the first time I got here, just getting comfortable with the scheme, comfortable with the players and the coaches,” Amerson said.

After a brief pause, the North Carolina State product added: “Now I feel like I belong here.”

Amerson entered the team’s offseason program with higher expectations than most of his fellow rookies. And for good reason. He was the Redskins’ top pick in April’s draft – 51st overall – and he’ll be expected to contribute right away at a position that saw its share of struggles in 2012.

With veterans DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers ahead of Amerson on the depth chart, it would be a stretch for Amerson to be named a starter for Week 1 against the Eagles. But if he continues to progress at the current pace, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Amerson to see significant playing time early in his rookie season, then seize a starting job at some point in 2013.  

“He’s a guy that has great ball skills, great length, good speed and has the ability to play man or zone,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said of the 6 foot 1, 205-pound Amerson. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing about him: he’s a playmaker that had 13 interceptions as a sophomore and six as a junior. He really kind of struggled his junior year, but we just think his playmaking skills were off the chart.”

So how about those much-discussed struggles during his third season with the Wolfpack? Haslett shrugged them off as maturity issues.

“He got surprised the first game of the year,” Haslett said. “Tennessee comes out with these two wideouts, one was a junior transfer and he didn’t know who he was. He got beat on a double move a couple of times, had some bad body language and he struggled the first half of the season. I think after that, he settled in and he played like he did his sophomore year. So, to me, that’s a maturity thing. You got to understand he’s still young, but when you watch him move, when you watch him close on things, everything is smooth and it’s effortless, the ball skills and everything that comes with it.”

Amerson’s ball skills were apparent once again in Wednesday’s minicamp practice when, during 11 on 11 drills, he reacted quickly and snagged a poorly thrown pass by Rex Grossman.

A few plays later, though, Amerson showed that he’s still got some learning to do. He attempted to jam Josh Morgan at the line of scrimmage, but Morgan sidestepped the attempted jam, raced downfield on a slant and reeled in a deep ball from Kirk Cousins.

On that play, Morgan looked like a five-year vet. Amerson, meantime, looked like a rookie. That’s going to happen. But Haslett believes that Amerson’s football I.Q. and work ethic are going to get him up to speed faster than most.

“I don’t think anything has surprised us,” Haslett said. “He is very knowledgeable and he understands the game. He is a guy that spends a lot of time in the office. I like what I see with him. He’s going to be a good player.”

Although the Redskins won’t be on the field again until they reconvene July 25 in Richmond, that doesn’t mean Amerson will spend the entire time vacationing. Instead, he's planning to immerse himself in game film, studying on his iPad. He also intends to travel to South Florida to work out with the personal trainer who helped him prior to the scouting combine.

“I’ll continue to watching film on my iPad,” he said. “But I also want to be in the best condition when I come back for camp. Try to get bigger, faster, stronger, quicker. Come back in the best shape of my life and be mentally prepared also.”