RICHMOND—As a rookie last season, David Amerson was allowed to grow at a comfortable pace. And he did.
This season, however, the Redskins’ cornerback is expected to be all grown up by Week 1 when he moves into a starting role and lines up opposite DeAngelo Hall in Houston.
“I’ve definitely [seen a difference] with Amerson,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “Amerson is playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swag about him and that’s very important. You’ve got have confidence and a little bit of swagger about you. You can see him starting to mature in only his second year. I really like where he is going. I think he’s really got a chance to be one of the top corners in the NFL for a long time if he keeps going on the pace that he’s going.”
Amerson focused this offseason on getting stronger and refining his technique. The biggest improvement, though, came from the reps he got in OTAs and the confidence that comes from experience. The game, he says, has begun to slow down on the field—and in his head.
“I definitely feel a lot smoother, a lot more comfortable, a lot more knowledgeable,” said Amerson, who recorded 48 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a touchdown a year ago. “The biggest thing was experience. You can’t replace that, and it’s helping me out a lot.”
He added: “It’s everything. You’re a lot more comfortable with your teammates, a lot more comfortable with your coaches. You know what to do, so you’re moving quicker. Altogether, it just builds confidence. You got out there and you just feel natural. You feel like you know what you’re doing, going off natural instinct.”
Another reason for Amerson’s rapid improvement in recent months is the fact that he usually finds himself lined up across from Pierre Garçon or another member of the Redskins’ upgraded receiving corps in practice.
“Pierre is a great receiver,” said Amerson, who has repeatedly found himself in one-on-one situations with Garçon in recent days. “Every time I get an opportunity to line up against him, I bring my ‘A’ game. I try to work on the little things, the details. Getting my hands on him, my eye [discipline]. Going against one of the best receivers is definitely going to make me a better player.”
Amerson also credited Hall’s tutelage for helping to get him ready. They sit next to each other in the meetings and often discuss the nuances of playing corner in the locker room and even away from the field.
“Since I’ve been here, DHall has definitely took me under his wing,” Amerson said. “You learn how to be a professional being around DHall, learning the little things that comes with playing corner and DB and just being a football player. I couldn’t learn from anyone better.”
In about five weeks, we’ll all find out exactly how much Amerson has learned when he lines up against Texans’ wide receivers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins.
“A lot of things are expected from me this year,” Amerson said. “I just want to live up to it as well as surpass it. I have all the confidence in myself. The coaches have confidence in me, my teammates. I got everything to back me. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”