Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was talking last week about second-round draft pick David Amerson, specifically why his 2012 season wasn't as strong as his 2011 season at North Carolina State. Haslett said he thought it came down to one game. Per Rich Tandler:
“He got surprised the first game of the year,” said Haslett. “Tennessee comes out with these two wideouts, one was a junior college transfer and he didn’t know who he was. He got beat on a double move a couple of times, had some bad body language and he struggled the first half of the season.”
In that game against the Vols, Amerson was beaten by Cordarrelle Patterson, who was a first-round pick in the draft, for 42 yards and a touchdown. Then to show that he was willing to pick on the cornerback who had led the nation in interceptions in 2011, Tennessee QB Chandler Whitmer went deep to Zach Rogers. The result was a 72-yard touchdown pass that had Amerson throwing up his arms in apparent frustration.
As Rich goes on to write, the issue was that Amerson appeared to let his bad game bother him for a few weeks after that. And that's what the Redskins are working on with Amerson this summer -- professional maturity. Amerson has great instincts and should be the kind of player, right away, who can make plays on the ball at the NFL level. But if given regular playing time right away, he's also likely to be exposed, give up big plays and possibly get down and discouraged about it. That's why it's the job of Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris to "coach up" Amerson and sand down the rough edges that are expected to come along with 21-year-old rookies.
The Redskins have DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers, at least, ahead of Amerson on the depth chart at cornerback. Maybe Chase Minnifield too. So they aren't necessarily counting on a significant contribution from him this season. But they aren't ruling it out either. Their belief is that he has the talent to play in the league and that his start date as a factor on defense depends on the speed with which he hones the technique and maturity issues that defensive backs his age have to get under control when they arrive in the league. The Redskins don't think it's a matter of "if" with Amerson, but "when."