Redskins rookies David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo open camp as starters in secondary

RICHMOND — When the Redskins took the field for their first walk-through of training camp on Thursday, rookie defensive backs David Amerson and Bacarri Rambo spent the morning with the first team.

Amerson – Washington’s second-round pick out of N.C. State – lined up at right cornerback, and Rambo – a sixth-rounder out of Georgia – played at free safety.

Amerson played at the spot held the last two years by seventh-year veteran Josh Wilson, who opened camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list while rehabbing from left shoulder surgery. Rambo, meanwhile, got the first crack at winning a job that remains up for grabs with last season’s starter, Madieu Williams, no longer with the team.

It remains to be seen how long each will remain atop the depth chart at their respective positions. But those designations at the start of camp signified the impression each rookie made on coaches during offseason practices, and the potential both seem to boast.

Amerson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, who in the past two seasons recorded 18 interceptions, learned of the development when he reported for his unit’s meeting.

“We just found out today in the meeting rooms. They put up the depth chart and just went from there,” Amerson said. “I don’t even look at it as pressure. I look at it as them showing confidence in me, thinking I can be that guy. Now, if Josh comes back, or if it’s just because he’s hurt, I really just don’t ask questions. I just go out and play. But I don’t look at it as pressure. I always want to be the guy from Day 1. As an athlete, that’s your mentality: to be the No. 1 guy, and I’m just trying to focus on keeping it.”

David Amerson, Baccari Rambo
David Amerson, left, talks to Baccari Rambo during rookie minicamp. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Second-year pro Richard Crawford worked as the second-team right cornerback, and E.J. Biggers worked at left corner behind DeAngelo Hall, but joined the first team defense, covering slot receivers, in nickel packages.

Rambo said coaches discussed the possibility of him lining up with the starters, and he assured them he was up for the challenge.

“It’s a big opportunity. I just have to go out there and show them I know what I’m doing and make plays,” he said. “They just asked did I know what I was doing, and said I was going to get some first-team reps. So I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Rambo’s competition includes veteran Reed Doughty and fellow rookie Phillip Thomas.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said during June’s minicamp that he expected his rookie defensive backs to play significant minutes this season, but added that he wasn’t sure if the team could afford to start two inexperienced players in his secondary.

Amerson and Rambo aim to prove themselves as fast learners, however, and convince the coaches that they can indeed contribute as starters.

Although inexperience could count as a weakness for Amerson and Rambo, Hall believes their athleticism and desire could help them compensate.

“It’s a plus and a minus. It’s obviously a plus to the situation and a negative, but we feel like we have a great group of guys that want to get better,” Hall said. “Hopefully we can work all the kinks out, get them all out in training camp and the preseason. We brought in a lot of playmakers. That’s what you need in the secondary, guys that can get their hands on the ball and guys who want to, and we definitely have a room full of those kinds of guys. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys suit up and play in some games.”

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What’s ahead:

The Redskins practiced today at 10 and are up again at 3:20. Players talked to reporters after the first practice, and Coach Mike Shanahan will do so after the afternoon session.

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At the podium: Griffin, Fletcher speak at opening of training camp

Our complete guide to training camp in Richmond

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mark Maske · July 25, 2013