With a full season in the NFL under his belt, second-year Washington Redskins cornerback David Amerson feels a lot calmer on the field this year.
"I think that's just credit to me being comfortable in this defense period," Amerson said of looking more fluid on the field during training camp and preseason. "Knowing a lot more, learning how to play with my help, learning how to play with my leverage, fundamentals -- it's all just clicking on all levels right now."
Head coach Jay Gruden has noticed the former second-round pick's is a lot more poised now than when he first got here in January as well.
"Amerson is playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swag about him and that's very important," Gruden said earlier this year. "I mention that about [cornerback] DeAngelo Hall… how you've got to have confidence and a little bit of swagger about you.
"You can see [Amerson] starting to mature in only his second year."
Amerson hasn't just grown mentally, though, as he put on a few pounds of muscle during the offseason as part of an extensive workout regimen.
"I was here working out with the strength coaches, coming in just about every day and really hitting the weights hard," Amerson said. "I was eating right, taking care of myself and it's paid off so far."
Amerson came to the Redskins after a highly successful collegiate career in which he logged 17 interceptions. In 2011, he nabbed an NCAA-high 12 interceptions, including at least two in four different games.
After recording two interceptions as a rookie, Amerson said he's building off his natural ability to intercept passes with a more technically sound overall game.
"I think the big thing is technique," he said of his progression from last year to this year. "Coming out of NC State, I was a raw talent just getting used to the new position. I was a free safety in high school and trying to learn the ins and outs of corners.
"I've been around some of these guys who have been doing it for some years and really learned a lot from them and really started studying other people and other corners. ... I'm coming together as a complete corner."
Perhaps the top moment of Amerson's rookie season came in the Redskins' overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers.
With the Chargers deep in Redskin territory, quarterback Phillip Rivers found running back Danny Woodhead for a five-yard catch and run that appeared destined for a game-winning touchdown.
Amerson, however, would stop the play just short of the goal-line with a diving tackle that took Woodhead out of bounds just shy of the end zone.
After showing off his athleticism on plays like that tackle of Woodhead, Amerson knows he's going to be tasked with a larger role this season by trying to stop his opponents' top receiving threats.
That'll start this Sunday when he's lining up against seven-time Pro Bowler Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, a familiar foe from his college days.
"I used to watch these dudes on TV, play with them on video games, and now I'm going against them," he said of facing players like Johnson. "It makes you really look back like 'I've come this far. I'm finally here.' But, you can't really think about that when you're going against them, when you're doing it.
"You just got to have a dog mentality and whoever lines up in front of you, try to get the best of them and go out there and compete."
The Texans also feature a first-year head coach in Bill O'Brien, a former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.
Amerson said that while O'Brien didn't fully unveil his scheme during the preseason, the defense is readying itself for the matchup based on what has been seen so far.
"You can go off of what they showed in preseason and what you think you can get from that," Amerson said. "How guys can attack us, how we've been attacking the pass – (knowing) the coordinator and his tendencies. What does he like to do against certain coverages and certain things.
"So, it's a little bit of stuff you can kind of put together to get an idea of what you're going to get."