Game Day Q&A: Cornerback David Amerson on learning the ropes in his rookie season

December 8, 2013

David Amerson (39) has two interceptions in his rookie season. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Now 12 games into his rookie season, cornerback David Amerson notices improved comfort and understanding on the field.

The second-round pick out of N.C. State has seen significant playing time, serving as the Redskins’ third corner behind DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. With many teams using three- and four-receiver sets, Amerson finds himself on the field regularly, and that has provided plenty of opportunities to learn on the fly.

Amerson’s coaches believe that although his season hasn’t been perfect, the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has had a solid campaign. Amerson has recorded 39 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions – one of which he returned for a 45-yard touchdown. Amerson is one of only three players on the team with multiple interceptions. DeAngelo Hall has three, and Brandon Meriweather has two.

In today’s Game Day Q&A, Amerson discusses the lessons he has learned as a rookie and the growth that he believes he has made.

MJ: How would you assess your rookie season so far?

DA: I think it’s going pretty good. I’ve definitely learned a lot and I’m getting better off of the experience of being out there, and I’m just getting more comfortable out there. I think it’s been pretty good for me, not so much for the team, though, because we’re not winning games that we should. But on a personal level, it’s been pretty good.

MJ: Where have you made the biggest improvements?

DA: I think my line of scrimmage play has gotten a lot better: My bump coverage. It’s gotten a lot better considering I didn’t do a lot of that in college. So, I was pretty raw in that technique. So, I’ve really gotten better with that and I’m learning how to take advantage of my length and using that to my advantage. That’s probably what’s improved the most.

MJ: What goes into playing solid bump coverage?

DA: Your hand usage, shuffle agilities. You’ve definitely got to be patient. Guys will try to give you a little shake, especially if they’re off the line. So, it’s mainly, I think, just having patience.

MJ: Was there a point this season where you felt like you hit a turning point?

DA: I’d say around the Lions game. After the Lions game, I started coming into my own and getting comfortable with things. I felt from that game forward, I really started to progress and started to click at things. That was probably the one that got me comfortable in the NFL.

MJ: What’s the biggest difference between college and NFL receivers?

DA: I think in the NFL, everyone’s good. In college, you might find a guy that’s not that good, or not up to your ability. But in the NFL, everyone is. Everyone is a top-notch athlete who can really beat you on any play. You can’t take any plays off, or things like that.

MJ: Has there been a particular veteran that you lean on more than others as you learn the NFL game?

DA: D-Hall helps me, Josh [Wilson] helps me, Meriweather helps me. All those guys. They do a good job of telling me little things to know, little details, what to look for, if we’re playing a certain coverage, they tell me where they’re going to be, or how they’re going to help me: just little things that help you out there on the field.

MJ: Who has been your hardest assignment so far this season?

DA: Hardest assignment, I’d probably say [Denver’s Eric] Decker. Decker’s a pretty good receiver. Really smart, real good with his hands – leverage and things like that. It was just the little things he was doing that made me really have to lock in to guard him.

MJ: Were you relieved when that game was over?

DA: Not so much relieved. I like competing. That’s what it’s all about: going out there, competing every play. I think it’s fun. I embrace competition. So that was a game that was fun. I wish we could come out of it with a ‘W,’ but from a personal standpoint, I did have fun. (Decker entered that game ranked second in the league in receiving yardage. Amerson limited him to four catches for 42 yards on seven targets – his second-lowest output of the season).

MJ: How have you handled the frustrations of losing?

DA: You just have to keep going out there, competing. You can’t get too down, thinking, ‘We’re not going to the playoffs. We’re not doing this.’ It’s all new to me: first time in the NFL. So, my mentality is just go out and compete every down, every play, let everything take care of itself and do what you can do.

MJ: Is there any particular area of your game that you are focusing on improving in during this final four-game stretch?

DA: Naw, really I just want to work on being consistent and be consistent with my technique and my reads and my eyes and not having any kind of mental errors. I think that’s the biggest thing for me.

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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