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Jim Haslett remains high on rookie defensive backs

Rookies Baccari Rambo and David Amerson continue to impress their coaches. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

With three preseason games worth of film on his pair of rookie defensive backs, cornerback David Amers on and free safety Bacarri Rambo, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett remains encouraged.

Rambo remains the starting free safety while Amerson started the first two preseason games at right cornerback while Josh Wilson continued to work his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Amerson – a second-round pick out of N.C. State – played frequently with the first team last Saturday even when Wilson returned. In Washington’s nickel packages, Wilson slides inside to cover opposing slot receivers, and Amerson played on the outside opposite left cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Amerson, after two strong outings, encountered some challenges against Buffalo. He missed an open-field tackle, drew a 15-yard penalty on a face-mask call, and then a 35-yard pass interference penalty while trying to defend a deep throw.

But Haslett saw the outing as a teaching opportunity, and not a sign of regression.

“You know what, David had six tackles. He’s easy covering – he can cover most of the guys I have seen so far up to this day with ease. He does a nice job,” Haslett said. “He needs to pick up a little more sense of urgency in some areas. But, you know, the penalty at the end, the 35-yard penalty, he just panicked. He was in great shape, he caught up to the guy and then, you can’t swing your arms, but it’s a learning experience also for him. We did some drills with him the other day with him and I think he’s got such good speed and length that even if someone does get behind him and he doesn’t panic, he’ll catch up and when the guy puts his arms up he’ll put his hands in between them and he’ll be fine. But he just – you can’t swing your arms. That’s something they do in this league.”

Haslett took the blame for Amerson’s missed tackle because he had the secondary in an alignment that wound up leaving Amerson vulnerable. “I’ll take that one,” said Haslett, who didn’t view that blown play as indicative of Amerson’s abilities. (Amerson leads Washington’s defense with seven solo tackles through three preseason games).

Meanwhile, Haslett saw growth in Rambo on Saturday.

In each of the first two preseason games, Rambo – a sixth-round pick out of Georgia – had done well in coverage, but struggled with tackling in the open field. Last week, however, Rambo put together a complete performance with three open-field tackles and one pass breakup.

Rambo credited additional coaching from Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris, and extra time after practices spent on improving his tackling techniques for the improvement.

Haslett in turn praised Rambo’s work ethic.

“I thought he did a great job. He worked hard all week in tackling and his angles,” the coach said. “I thought he did a great job; he came in and tackled the quarterback on the read option in the open space. He closed a couple times, made some open field tackles.”