Blessed with size (6 feet 1, 205 pounds) and speed (he once ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds), Amerson plays with an aggressive, physical style that makes him a threat in man-to-man coverage.
He meets a need because although starters DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson remain on the roster, both are entering the final year of their respective contracts. Meantime, last year’s third cornerback, Cedric Griffin, no longer is with the team.
The team signed free agent E.J. Biggers, but the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer has started more than six games in a season only once in his four-year career. He presumably will compete for the third cornerback spot along with Amerson, second-year pro Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield, who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.
Amerson visited the Redskins on April 10. He met with secondary coach Raheem Morris and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. He said he came away from that meeting with the belief that he would be a good fit in Washington’s system.
“I think they’re both brilliant guys and great coaches and will make me a better player. I’m real excited,” Amerson said. “I know it’s a hard-nosed defense, a lot of good players, a lot of competitors. They just get after it. It’s something I would like to be a part of, really.
“When I got that call, all the hard work over the years and being one of the dreams since I started playing as a kid, it all hit me at once. It was one of the best feelings ever,” Amerson later added.
Amerson admittedly didn’t have as strong a junior season as he did as a sophomore in 2011. He recorded four interceptions in his first seven games of the 2012 season, but also gave up numerous big plays in which he said he gambled and lost.
“Just trying to top off last year. Me being the competitor I am, trying to excel past that. Just trying too hard,” Amerson said. “At the beginning of the season, I was trying to make every play, trying to make everything an interception, trying to just jump every route, and I started sitting on routes, eyes in the backfield, and it was more so beating myself more than getting beat by other receivers. It’s something I had to eliminate.”
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan dismissed the notion that over-aggression would plague Amerson.
“We don’t really worry about that,” the coach said. “We’re going to coach him the way we coach him, to fit into our system, and he’s got the athletic ability to make plays. Any time you’ve got length, you’re in that 4.4 range, you’re in that 6-foot area, you have the ability to play off coverage and bump, we do a lot of different things with our secondary. We think we can give him some opportunities he hasn’t had in the past, and we’re just looking forward to working with him.”