Cornerback David Amerson
David Amerson is still growing in 2017.
The 25-year-old cornerback already stands 6'1" but his growth now isn't being measured in inches on his wingspan, or seconds on his shuttle run; it's being measured in something that's a little harder to quantify, but just as important as any other statistical metric in football.
You see, in 2017, David Amerson is growing into a leader.
Since joining the Oakland Raiders in the early stages of the 2015 regular season, Amerson has been a fixture out wide in the team's base defense, tallying 42 passes defensed, per Pro Football Reference, since donning the Silver and Black.
Amerson, who says that he tends to be on the quieter side, has arguably been the Raiders best cover corner since he touched down in Oakland, but now entering his third season with the team, he's challenging himself to do and be more.
"I think that anybody that knows me, I'm not a big talker," said Amerson. "I'm a say less, do more type of guy, but I think the coaches, especially [cornerbacks] Coach Rod [Woodson], want me to be a little more vocal, especially for the younger guys, and really kind of coach people up on what I see. I'm just trying to step into that role, and embrace it."
In other words, now in his fifth, NFL season, Amerson is being asked to lead.
The timing to do just that is right for No. 29. Now in his second training camp as a Raider, and third season overall in Silver and Black, Amerson has morphed from a waiver claim gone right, to a one of the longest-tenured players in Rod Woodson's group.
"I feel like this year I'm trying to step into more of a leadership role, especially on the back end," Amerson explained. "With me going on my third year playing here, and starting for the Raiders, I'm definitely trying to put the secondary on my back, giving them motivation, and things like that. I'm just trying to take that step for sure."
And according to cornerback TJ Carrie, he has seen Amerson not only accept the challenge of being a leader, but run with it as well.
"I feel like he's stepped into that leadership role; he's embraced it," Carrie said. "His physicality and his play is very easy for the younger guys to follow him in that essence. He knows what he does on the field, as far as game plans, and scheme, and he's always giving us little tips and snippets 'look, man, our offense has done this the past three days, if they give you this, this is exactly what you're doing.' He's embraced that off the field and on the field."
For Amerson, part of that leadership is being a vocal presence for the Raiders defensive backs, and no longer simply leading by example. In 2017, Amerson will be looked at to vocalize his thoughts, praise, and even critiques when appropriate, and so far so good in that regard for the North Carolina State-product.
"Every day that we break it up, he always has something to say," Carrie said. "He's always giving us something to feed off of, a little nugget here or there, and that energy, man."
Taking a look at the roster, there aren't many defensive backs left on the team from when Amerson arrived in September of 2015, but such is the nature of the NFL, and for Amerson, serving as the first piece to arrive in a reworked secondary is a point of pride.
Yes, a majority of the faces have changed in the Raiders defensive backs room, but the physical cornerback believes that the pieces the team has in place now are the right ones to find success.
"I think with losing Charles Woodson, with him not being back there, you know, he was a phenomenal player and everything, but I think [safety] Reggie has done a great job of coming in, and taking on that free safety role," Amerson explained. "And with [safety] Karl [Joseph] being young, and with a lot of ability, but still having so much to learn, it's definitely been a roller coaster ride, and I think this year, with us going on two years of playing together, I think we're clicking a little bit more, and it's going to be fun."
In 2017, the Raiders will take on the four teams in the NFC East, which means that for the first time since leaving the nation's capital, Amerson will square off against his old team, the Washington Redskins.
And although Amerson is headed into 2017 a more vocal leader, come Week 3, he wants his play to do all the talking.
"Anytime another team gives up on you, or whatever the case may be when I was there, you definitely kind of want to show them up," he said. "I mean, yeah, I definitely want to go in there and make some noise, that's just my mentality with things. Other than, it's just another game we have to win for sure."