David Amerson looked toward his Washington Redskins teammates and threw up his hands in disbelief. The rookie cornerback wanted to know how the heck Pittsburgh tight end David Paulson got so wide open for a 26-yard reception in Monday night's preseason game.
Amerson later realized the blame belonged to him. Better yet, he embraced it.
"I had no idea that there was a guy that ran in my zone behind me," Amerson said. "You just got to be aware. If I would have saw him, I would have definitely played deep to short, but I actually was focused on that one receiver because I had one threat when the play began. I've just got to be more aware."
That was one of several mistakes by Redskins rookies during Washington's 24-13 victory. Such gaffes, though, won't necessarily keep coaches awake. Preseason is the ideal environment for them because they foster growth. Several draft picks, then, will take lessons from the game to practice Wednesday as the team moves toward the regular season opener in less than three weeks.
Sixth-round safety Bacarri Rambo missed another open-field tackle, which is relatively concerning because he is a part of the first-string defense.
Rambo missed running back Jonathan Dwyer on a 23-yard rush in the second quarter. The play was reminiscent of how Rambo missed Tennessee running back Chris Johnson in the open field on Johnson's 58-yard touchdown Aug. 8.
In trying to line up Dwyer, Rambo broke down his stride. During the postmortem of the Johnson run, he acknowledged he shouldn't do that. Slowing down like that makes it difficult for the defender to generate power, and it makes him reactive and susceptible to changes in direction.
Dwyer took advantage by juking past Rambo. Rambo didn't touch him.
Rookies Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed emerged from their game debuts glad to have them over with. Both are eager to build on some critical errors.
Thompson, a fifth-round pick, lost a fumble on his second carry. It was Thompson's first game in about 10 months, so he understood and accepted the rust element in play.
"I should have had two hands on it when I was in traffic," he said. "It's something I'm going to change and make better."
Perhaps more concerning than Thompson's fumble is the fact his left shoulder popped in and out of the socket on the play. Thompson is only 5 feet 7 inches, so ball security and durability questions will follow him until he proves himself to be above them. It took only two professional touches for them to surface.
Reed, a third-round tight end out of Florida, dropped a pass in the flat. He also criticized himself for his role in an interception that quarterback Rex Grossman threw in the second half.
Grossman, who completed 10 of 16 passes and was accurate for most of the game, intended a pass for Reed deep down the middle. Safety Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith easily picked it off, though, when Reed didn't finish his route how Grossman expected him to.
"That was all my fault," Reed said. "Rex was thinking I was going to cross the safety's face, but I didn't."
Grossman didn't hold it against Reed. Afterward, he complimented Reed's athleticism and talent with the understanding that rookies make mistakes in their debuts.
Reed, at least, sensed he belonged on the field because the speed of the game seemed slower than practice. That provided him enough of a foundation to look forward to his next opportunity.
"I think I'll keep getting better in practice," Reed said. "Keep working on what I have to get better at, and come out next week."
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