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Rookie Defensive Backs Ready To Compete


After a season in which the Washington Redskins' defense ranked 31st against the pass, the front office has flushed the secondary with four potential starters under the age of 25.

First in free agency, the team added former Tampa Bay Buccaneer E.J. Biggers, who started 12 games a season ago.

In the 2013 NFL Draft, the team added cornerback David Amerson and safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, creating instant depth and competition.

"It's definitely motivation, knowing that the coaches have confidence in me," Amerson said. "It definitiely makes me want to go out there and prove them right.

"It makes me want to work hard, and that's what I plan to do."

Amerson and Biggers join a competition against incumbent starters Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall, who was re-signed this offseason.

"We're competitors; all we do is compete," Amerson said. "You don't even have to talk about it because it's like second nature. Every time we step on the field we're competing

Thomas and Rambo project as long-term options at safety, but will compete with Brandon Meriweather, DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty for the opening day starting positions.

"I think both of them could do a great job at the strong safety position as well as the free safety position," head coach Mike Shanahan said of the rookies. "That's what you're looking for when you draft them and hopefully that plays out that way."

"We do have some competition and that's what you're looking for. You're looking for depth, so if you do lose some players, you can still find a way to win. We have that now much more than we've had in the past."

All of this competition does not preclude a close working relationship, as the rookies took the time at mini-camp to get acquainted.

"It's an instant bond. Those are really cool guys," Amerson said. "We'll be good friends and good teammates."

A common thread among the three draft picks is a nose for the football. Over their collective college careers, the trio tallied 47 interceptions in just 10 total seasons.

"That's my biggest strength right there," Phillip Thomas said. "I feel like I have a knack for the ball whether it's in the air or on the ground.

"Getting to the ball, forcing fumbles and plays behind the line of scrimmage are all game-changing plays."

"I know that those guys had a lot of interceptions coming out of college, and that's one of those things that really can change a game: a turnover on defense," Amerson said. "That's what the coaches want and that's what we bring to the table."

Amerson led the country in interceptions in 2011, picking off 13 errant passes for the NC State Wolfpack.

After his totals dropped to just five in 2012, Amerson drew criticism for trying to make plays when he should have played it safe.

For Amerson, his disappointing 2012 season was as valuable of a learning experience as his successful 2011 campaign.

"You just have to know when to pull the trigger and when not to. You've got to know where your help is on the field and let the game come to you," he explained. "You know the plays you can make and the plays you can't, and that's something that I really learned last year. That will help me as I go along in my NFL career."

With three high-profile defensive backs taken in the same draft, their stories will be intertwined moving forward, particularly if they earn playing time early.

"I want to be a contributor to the team, no matter where it's at," Thomas said. "It would be great to start, but I know it's a competitive in that league. I'm going to have to go in there early and put in a lot of work.

"Anything I can do to help this team get some more wins, I'm willing to do that."

Amerson agreed with his teammate: "I know for me, I'm looking to come in and really make an inpact for the Redskins, as far as causing turnovers and making plays, period.

"[Thomas and Rambo] have the same attitude and hopefully we will be successful."




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