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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 12/24/2011

Gameday Q and A: Cornerback Josh Wilson

As the end of the 2011 Redskins season nears its end, cornerback Josh Wilson appears to be finishing on a high note.

Signed by Washington as a free agent shortly before training camp, Wilson – a native of the D.C. area and a former DeMatha and University of Maryland standout – experienced an up-and-down start to the season as he worked to acclimate himself to the Redskins’ defensive system.

Wilson showed promise in coverage, but often came up empty when he had the opportunity to intercept a pass. Wilson said he felt half-a-beat slow on the field because of his unfamiliarity with the Redskins’ schemes, but he remained confident that eventually he would turn the corner, and the interceptions would start to come.

Two weeks ago, Wilson finally recorded his first interception, picking off Tom Brady in the end zone to set up the Redskins for a drive that could have tied or won the game. Last week, Wilson had another interception in the end zone to deny Eli Manning and the Giants a fourth-quarter touchdown.

In today’s Gameday Q&A, Wilson talks about his growth as a Redskin, his role and his D.C. area roots.

You’ve said all year, and your teammates have said the same thing, that interceptions come in bunches. Sure enough, you get your first two weeks ago, and then another the very next week. How does it work that way?

“Sometimes you get so concentrated on trying to get that one interception, trying to make that one play, that once you get that monkey off your back, you relax and the plays just come to you. Now, they seem like they’re coming to me.”

How would you assess your first season with the Redskins?

“Of course, we want our record to be better than what it is, but as a defense and as a secondary, I feel that we’ve meshed...As the season has gone on, we’ve gotten better and better each week. I don’t feel like we’ve been just bad in any game. It’s just that it helps to mesh and feel one another out.”

As a defensive back, you’re often out there on an island, but how crucial is that understanding between cornerbacks and safeties of one another’s tendencies and styles?

“Communication is key, but the biggest thing is feeling how a guy likes to play. The safeties knowing how me and D-Hall like to play makes a difference on how they react to certain situations. Me knowing how O.J., Reed, LaRon and D.J. like to play makes me lean in different places. Just understanding the other guy’s playing skills, abilities, likes and dislikes makes you a better secondary as a whole.

Coaches and players talk about the need for cornerbacks to almost have amnesia: if you have a bad play, give up a big pass, you have to wipe it out. How do you develop that mindset?

“For me, just like the Jets game: I can play 99 plays great, and I make a mistake on one play, and I’ve had a terrible game. That’s just what we sign up for as little kids to play cornerback. You can play a whole game great and you can’t have that one mistake because that could cost the team the game. It can be the only thing everyone remembers you for. But another thing is, you can sit there and have nothing coming your way, and everyone thinks you’re doing bad, too. It’s a definite thing where you can’t fall asleep at any time, and you have to be on your P’s and Q’s. And I understand that people, a lot of times are not going to notice that you’re doing a great job.”

When did you first decide to play cornerback?

“I had a choice to play cornerback at Maryland. They recruited me for cornerback AND wide receiver. But I knew, being 5-foot-9-and-a-half, the chances were greater for me to make it as a cornerback than it was for me to make it as a wide receiver. So I made the choice on my own to make the best possible decision for making it to the NFL.”

Do you relish that pressure?

“Oh yeah. I love when the cards are stacked against me. I want to be able to go out there and prove myself, every play and every down.”

What do you expect Year 2 in this system to bring?

“I talked to [defensive coordinator Jim Haslett] about that the other day, and getting into the second year, I’m going to be able to make calls. I’m going to be able to make adjustments and play faster throughout the whole season because I’ll have that whole understanding and know the nooks and crannies and with development and growth, plays will be made because of that.”

Is playing in your hometown what you’d expected it’d be?

“Oh yeah. Couldn’t ask for anything more. Playing for the team that you grew up watching and loving and being in the area you grew up, getting to have my family at every game, it’s definitely a blessing.”

What’s your favorite thing to do for fun away from the football field?

“Sit at home, play NBA 2K12, chill with my family, my wife. I’m not a big run-around type guy. Just enjoy spending time with the people I love.”

Who’s your go-to team on that game?

“I use the my player mode most of the time. I play with the Jazz. But I’m definitely a [Chris Paul] fan, so now I guess I’m going to have a CP3 Clippers Jersey. But I like any kind of point guard, because I imagine that’d be the only position I could play. So, any point guard, the Chris Pauls, the Rajon Rondos.”

Did you ever play basketball?

“Oh yeah, I played, and I was a point guard. I was more of the Rondo type, not really a shooter, but a passer with good defense.”

So it was pretty clear in high school that football was the sport to pursue over basketball?

“Well, I went to DeMatha, so basketball wasn’t really a choice there. That was pretty much decided for me. But actually, I was always good in track, and my 11th-grade year, going into football season, I remember sitting down with my mom and my uncle and saying, ‘I don’t want to play football anymore. I just want to run track’ I had gotten second at Nationals in 400 hurdles. I was doing great, and I still remember my uncle and my mom laughing and saying, ‘Yeah, right.’ My mom said, ‘You’re going back out there. I’m not paying for college.’ So I had to go out there, continue playing football. And it was the greatest decision they ever made for me in my life.”

Do they ever remind you of that?

“Oh yeah! {laughing}They still bring it up all the time and remind me how they decided that for me and how because of that, I owe them.”

By  |  12:05 PM ET, 12/24/2011

 
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