In late September, cornerback David Amerson was released by Washington. He had lost his starting job and been benched for poor play.
The 2013 second-round draft pick played 33 games for the team in a little over two seasons, struggling mightily at times and intercepting just two passes.
At the time of his release, Washington coach Jay Gruden said, “It hurts, you want all your draft picks obviously. You want to build your team within the draft. … Unfortunately, not all of them are going to hit.”
But Gruden wished Amerson well, saying, “He’s going to go somewhere else and play and probably play well.”
That place is Oakland, where Amerson is indeed finding new life.
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie claimed Amerson off waivers on Sept. 22, and the move has proven to be a huge boost for the Raiders secondary.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from North Carolina State has played nine games for the Raiders and played so well he’s supplanted DJ Hayden as a starting corner. He’s intercepted two passes, had 18 pass breakups, been in on 39 tackles and forced a fumble in his short time in silver and black.
And, in the Raiders’ 24-21 victory over the Titans this past Sunday, Amerson played exceptionally well, getting a grade of +5.9 from the analytics website Pro Football Focus. He was targeted nine times in the game, allowed just one catch for 5 yards, had an interception and a club-record six passes defensed.
The week before, Amerson was matched up against All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson of the Lions and held him in check – as much as it’s possible – with five catches for 88 yards.
As the Raiders (5-6) prepare to take on the Chiefs (6-5) this Sunday afternoon at O.co Coliseum, Amerson is a big reason for hope that the defense can play better over the final five games as the team pushes for its first postseason berth since 2002.
Amerson says he’s “a competitor” and views his opportunity with his new team as a challenge.
“I got released from Washington,” Amerson told Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group after Sunday’s game vs. the Titans. “And I felt like I had something to prove. I definitely feel like I am a good corner in this league and want to prove that.”
So far, he’s making McKenzie look exceptionally smart for giving him a chance.