David Amerson, the Washington Redskins' second-round pick, has spent most of training camp working with the starters, but that’s not by design. It’s because starters Josh Wilson (shoulder) and DeAngelo Hall (ankle) have missed time. And it’s clear that Amerson is more talented than E.J. Biggers, which is why he receives the first shot with the starters when Wilson or Hall are out.
What he’s learning: How to play press-man coverage. Amerson was asked to play mostly off-man coverage at NC State, sometimes lining up eight or nine yards off the receiver to get a better read. Amerson is still adapting to this role and often straddles the line between a good jam and riding a receiver and holding. Early in camp he could have been called for holding at some point in each workout. He’s also learned that something he used to do at NC State on his own is a part of the game plan in Washington. The Redskins have a zone coverage designed to make it appear he's on the outside in man, only to jump outside to a zone -- against the inside receiver running that way.
“I have no problems pressuring a guy now,” Amerson said. “I had to get better at it and take advantage of my long arms. And [my eyes] are definitely something I have to focus on, double moves and getting your eyes on the receiver and not the quarterback, the little things that really distinguish if you’re going to make a play or not.”
What stands out: His skill set, which is why he was a second-round draft pick in April. Amerson’s long arms will help him in press coverage -- he can keep his hands on the receiver a little longer, for example -- and he has good speed. Amerson breaks on the ball well and wants to make the big play. And one reason the Redskins are confident he’ll develop into a good press corner is because of his footwork. “He has great movement for a guy his size,” Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris said.
What needs to be seen: Aggressive finishes, whether in coverage or against the run. The Redskins don’t have live hitting in practice, so it’s tough for Amerson to prove if he can handle this role. Last year, he was not a big part of NC State’s run defense; he must be in Washington’s. “The violent punch, the violent movement, the violent tackles,” Morris said. “He has a chance to do it. He’s a pretty aggressive kid.”
Current projection: Amerson will easily be one of the top four corners and it’s not as if any of those ahead of him have excelled. The coaches say Wilson’s early bumps are because he’s returning from shoulder surgery. Hall is still hurt. Meanwhile, Amerson is a talented second-round pick (with lots to prove). Still, it would not be a shock to see Amerson develop into a starter at some point this season -- even without injuries to others, which is a nod to his talent and possible issues elsewhere. But first Amerson must show he can handle run duties and be consistent with his eyes.