ALAMEDA (AP) — Veteran cornerback David Amerson looks back on the Washington Redskins’ decision to cut him less than a month into the season and can’t help but smile.
A former second-round draft pick who lost his starting job in training camp and was inactive for Washington’s Week 2 win over St. Louis, Amerson has bounced back fairly well since being claimed off waivers by Oakland in late September.
The 23-year-old defensive back was on the field for all but two plays during last week’s loss to Chicago and is expected to make his second consecutive start Sunday when the Raiders host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
In Amerson’s view, his arrival in California was meant to be.
“It’s a fresh start and I’m doing everything in my power to make it work,” Amerson said Tuesday. “As long as I’m making 100 percent effort to do everything to the best of my ability . it was meant for me to come here.”
That Amerson is starting in the NFL’s 31st-ranked secondary after being drummed out of Washington is a sign both of how desperate the Raiders were for help and how eager Amerson was to get his fledgling career back on track.
Oakland is giving up more than 310 yards per game through the air, much of them coming from opposing tight ends who have routinely gouged the Raiders for big plays down the middle all season.
With free safety Nate Allen sidelined with a knee injury, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. moved starting cornerback T.J. Carrie into the middle of the defense two weeks and started Neiko Thorpe at Carrie’s spot against Cleveland.
Amerson, who was still trying to learn Oakland’s defensive schemes, took only half the defensive snaps against the Browns but started in place of Thorpe at right cornerback and was in for 77 of the 79 plays against the Bears.
“He’s really picked up the system well,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s done a nice job coming in here and showing some of the skill that we thought he would have, and he’s added to the group. He’s been a good contributor. He’s had some sticky coverage and we think he’s got a chance to help us.”
That’s what Washington was hoping for when it selected Amerson with the 51st overall draft pick in 2013, only to see those plans go to waste.
Amerson started eight games and showed some promise as a rookie but the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder suffered a nightmarish 2014 season when he was beaten for 10 touchdowns and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 74 percent of the passes thrown his way.
When Amerson got off to another slow start this season, the Redskins decided to move on.
Now he’s in Oakland preparing to play against Manning and the Broncos after the Raiders struggled to slow down a hobbling Jay Cutler and the Bears.
Amerson played against Manning as a rookie and said defending him will be Oakland’s toughest challenge of the season so far.
“At the end of the day you just have to play sticky tight coverage and ty to be there when the ball gets there,” Amerson said. “You can watch all the film he ever played. A guy like that, he schemes the defense. He recognizes a lot of stuff that you run, even when you try to disguise. You have to definitely pay attention to detail.”
Notes: Members of the Blue Angels flight team attended practice as part of the Bay Area’s Fleet Week. The pilots, staff and family also had lunch with the players.