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Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Lessons Learned: David Amerson

By John Keim

1. David Amerson loves to play aggressive. That’s what enabled the Washington Redskins' rookie cornerback to intercept San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers in the fourth quarter Sunday. He played for the inside break by receiver Keenan Allen, was right behind him and ran through his upfield shoulder to grab the ball. A pretty interception.

2. He still gets greedy, a knock on him from his North Carolina State days. Playmakers tend to be greedy; it’s how they make plays. But it also leads to big plays allowed, too. And it makes such players easy to set up as the Chargers did in the fourth quarter. Allen had been running inside breaking routes all game, until he took one outside after Amerson’s interception. It resulted in an easy 16-yard touchdown catch. Amerson played for a slant route and lost.

David Amerson
This tackle by Redskins cornerback David Amerson against Chargers running back Danny Woodhead was a pivotal play in Washington's win.
“He gave that to me all game, so I anticipated it. I was extra aggressive. It was a great counter move,” Amerson said. “The best way to defend a double move is keeping your eyes on the receiver, not in the backfield. I was getting a little greedy.”

It’s tough to know where that line is between greed and aggressiveness. And the coaches say they like his mindset, but that fatigue led to his late-game mistakes. But Amerson has been set up in other games and will continue to be tested in this manner; teams often save that double move for late in the game as the Chargers did.

“Just being smart and knowing when to and when not to,” Amerson said. “That’s what really separates some of the great corners. That comes along with experience. ... There are some things you just have to live with, and you’re out there on the edge. All your mistakes are highlighted or touchdowns. It’s unfortunate, but as a corner it’s something you have to deal with.”

3. He made two excellent plays near the goal-line in the fourth quarter. The first was the diving tackle of Danny Woodhead, who was inches from touching the pylon with the ball. A knock on Amerson before the draft was his lack of physical play and his competitiveness. But on this play he was physical and competitive.

“I never thought I wasn’t a physical guy,” Amerson said. “People can say what they want, but you’ve just got to go out and compete and let your play speak for itself. A play like that will help me prove my case.”

Then, on third and goal from the 1, he defended Allen, who ran inside and then cut back to the outside.

“When I see him going in,” Amerson said, “out of the corner of my eye I see Philip scrambling and automatically I’m thinking this doesn’t look right, so I knew he was going to try to sit down and come back out.”

4. But Amerson was reminded of another valuable lesson when Allen caught a 12-yard pass off a Rivers scramble in the second quarter on a third-and-10. Allen ran another inside route, but when Rivers broke the pocket to his right, Allen cut back outside and was wide open.

“You can turn back to him and play better, but some things you’ve got to live with,” Amerson said.

5. One week earlier, Amerson did a nice job on Denver's Eric Decker. The Broncos tested him on two passes downfield in the same series; neither were complete. Decker wasn’t open.

“I was just trying to pressure him with outside leverage, and he kept releasing to my leverage,” Amerson said. “It allowed me to get my hands on him, and that killed most of everything.”

6. He’s feeling more comfortable in press coverage, something he did not play last year. He still gets out of position in this coverage occasionally, but has improved.

“The main thing is experience, knowing how a guy releases and studying your guy,” he said. “It’s just staying patient. That’s the biggest thing, and using my advantages and my length. Guys give you all this stuff and try to throw you off-balance, and all of a sudden you’re running side by side with them or they’re in front of you. You have to really study your guy.”