For Washington Redskins second-year safety Bacarri Rambo, this preseason has been all about redemption.
After safeties Phillip Thomas and Brandon Meriweather were sidelined early in the 2013 season, Rambo, then a rookie, was handed a starting role in the defensive secondary Week 1 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
With the No. 191 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Redskins selected Bacarri Rambo out of Georgia. Here's a gallery of his collegiate career.
But despite recording 18 total tackles – 13 solo – and one sack in two games as the starter, Rambo showed he still faced a major learning curve. He was demoted to a backup role in favor of veteran Reed Doughty, and for four games last season, was even placed on the inactive list.
When the offseason came, Rambo put his nose to the grindstone and worked to improve himself as a player. Training both mentally and physically, he went to work every day improving his craft to return anew for his second year in the NFL.
"I haven't had any days off," Rambo said Wednesday. "I'm just doing extra stuff to get better and be the player that I want to be and the staff and team want me to be."
His hard work in the offseason is now paying off in the preseason. A year wiser, he's been making the most of his opportunities in a crowded secondary.
"I think I'm doing pretty well," the University of Georgia product said. "I'm just going out there, trying to play aggressive and trying to get better on my tackling."
In Washington's first two preseason games, Rambo has showed signs of the player the Redskins were hoping he would be when they took him in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. In victories over New England and Cleveland, Rambo has recorded nine tackles – three of them solo – and also forced a fumble Monday night vs. the Browns.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Rambo's play has definitely stood out as he watches film of this year's two preseason games.
"He's not a bad tackler, it's just his angles and his depth is too far away," Haslett said. "That's something that [defensive backs coach] Raheem [Morris] has been working on with him. … Hopefully he can keep continuing to improve in that area, because he's got great ball skills and obviously he's very athletic."
Rambo said he's leaned on the veteran experience in the Redskins' locker room as he continues to work on securing a spot on the team's 53-man roster. He said the likes of Ryan Clark, DeAngelo Hall and Meriweather have all been at his disposal to provide guidance throughout his journey.
"They have influenced me a lot," Rambo said. "Ryan, Meriweather – those guys have talked to me a lot about angles, giving tips and advice on how to become a better tackler."
Clark, a 13-year veteran who is entering his second stint with the Redskins after playing eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said has been impressed by the former first-team All American's work ethic.
"He's taken it upon himself to take those challenges, to take the adversity from last year and be a better player," Clark said. "He's done an extremely good job for us this far in the preseason."
Hall, who is entering his eighth season in the Redskins' secondary, saw the struggles that Rambo went through as a rookie. He believes that those days are behind the young safety, however.
"He's been probably the best player on our team," Hall told reporters on Wednesday. "He's graded out great. He's night and day from last year."
On Saturday, Rambo will get another opportunity to showcase his offseason work for the Redskins' coaching staff, this time against the Baltimore Ravens. Rambo and the rest of the defensive secondary will be going toe-to-toe with quarterback Joe Flacco and his fleet of receivers that includes the likes of Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Steve Smith and Jacoby Jones.
As Rambo continues to redeem himself this preseason, his desire and work ethic continue to shine through. He said he's never satisfied, however, and will continue to try to take advantage of the opportunities set before him, continuing with Saturday's game.
"I still got things I need to improve on," Rambo said. "I'm going to take advantage of each game as they come and try to get better, try to improve my craft and be the best player that I can be."