David Amerson’s 2015 season started with the lowest of lows. He was cut by the team that once invested a second-round pick in the cornerback.
Remarkably, it finished with him producing a career season for the Raiders after being picked up in a waiver claim.
Amerson was second in the NFL in passes defensed with 25. His four interceptions were double what he had during his first two years plus two games in Washington, who took him No. 51 overall in the 2013 draft out of North Carolina State.
“To be honest, it was just something I was prepared for,” Amerson said of the rollercoaster season. “When I got released … I knew wherever I went — it ended up being here — I had to come in and make a statement. So that was my whole mindset throughout the season and as we went along. I thank the Lord I was able to do it.”
By season’s end, Amerson was ranked the No. 13 cornerback in the league by Pro Football Focus. He was placed just ahead of Sean Smith, the free agent the Raiders plucked from division rival Kansas City.
Now they’re prepared to form a potentially potent duo.
“I’m really excited,” Amerson said. “Sean’s a very smart due. He has no trouble passing the knowledge on. I’ve learned a lot just being around him these OTAs and so I’m excited to see how much more I can learn from him.”
Amerson said the biggest key for him in 2016 is to not dwell too much on his successful 2015 season.
“You’ve got to put last year behind and just improve as a player,” Amerson said. “Come out here, definitely don’t try to act like you know everything, because I know I don’t. There’s a lot of places I know I need to get better at.”
Amerson, who is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, said he’d like to work on being more physical. He thinks he can learn a little about from the 6-3, 218-pound Smith.
He also realizes that the presence of an established corner like Smith could mean defenses attack him more. That won’t be all that different from last year, when it took until the last couple weeks of the season for teams to start shying away from Amerson’s side of the field. But now he figures to see his share of balls come his way and is excited about that.
“Hey, it’s more opportunities to make plays,” Amerson said. “As a corner, you can never be scared of the ball coming your way. You’re out there on the island by yourself and you’ve got to stand up when the time comes. I know that going into my career. He’s an established corner in this league and I’m still trying to establish myself so I’m prepared.”