Cornerback David Amerson has been excellent in his season-plus in Oakland. He underwhelmed at the end of two-plus years in Washington.
He often – okay, constantly - gets asked about the difference between then and now. Amerson’s answer has always been honest and real, saying that he put down the video game controller and found the work ethic required to realize vast potential and succeed at the NFL level.
Amerson talked about that transition on CSNCalifornia.com’s "Raiders Insider Podcast," but delved into his athletic past and explained how things came too easy at first and created a lackluster drive.
Amerson said the experience “builds character as a player and as a man,” and, at just 24 years old, he has found a routine that should carry him through his NFL career.
Getting released by Washington was a difficult, startling moment, one that forced Amerson to review his priorities. After the Raiders claimed him off waivers last year, the talented cover man vowed to make changed.
“It comes to a point not only as an athlete but as a man, where you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘What can I do better, to make me a more successful football player or a successful man?’” Amerson said on a podcast released Thursday afternoon. “That was the case for me, and I really realized where I was lacking in my preparation. I just cranked that up. I always believed I was one of the better guys at my position. To be able to show that, I knew I had to prepare and show that I’m ready to go out on Sundays and make those plays.”
Amerson has made plenty in 17 games as a Raider. He has 73 tackles, five interceptions and 33 passes defensed in that span. His 2015 efforts earned a four-year contract extension that should keep him with the Raiders through 2020.
Many look at 2015 as Amerson’s breakout year. That actually occurred as a sophomore at North Carolina State in 2011, when he became a first-team All American after recording 13 interceptions in just his second season at cornerback.
“It was crazy. I was out there playing, but I was still a naturally raw talent,” Amerson said. “I was still learning the cornerback position after playing safety in high school. It was only my second year in college and I was just learning how to play the position. We used a lot of coverages where I could use my natural ability and have my eyes on the quarterback. I was really getting a jump on the ball. It was really a magical year.
"I’m still speechless about it, because it seemed like every game I was getting the ball. It was a year where everything was falling in my direction.”
That big year created some bad habits and took some time to correct.
“It gave me a false sense that it was that easy all the time,” Amerson said. “I was still learning what it took to become a cornerback and a professional. Once I got to the league, my rookie year was pretty smooth. I had a pretty solid year, but I was still playing with that method. It eventually caught up to me coming into my second year, with the lack of preparation. I was going out there and just showing up. I wasn’t 100 percent locked in, and studying guys all week.
"Like I’ve said, I was at home playing video games, watching TV and not doing what I needed to do and I should’ve been. Once I realized that was an area I was lacking in, I put the effort into it and started changing things up. I see the results, and that makes you want to keep working hard.”
Hear more from Amerson about his personal growth and his excitement about playing in a talented Raiders secondary with a bright future ahead in the podcast below.