Adversity no match for RB Jawan Jamison

Adversity no match for RB Jawan Jamison
June 8, 2013, 2:00 pm
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One of the more intriguing position battles in training camp will be contested in the Redskins' backfield.

There are seven tailbacks right now, but it’s likely only three will make the 53-man roster. And with Alfred Morris guaranteed of one of those jobs, the competition figures to be intense.

Overcoming challenges, however, is one of Jawan Jamison's specialties. 

Jamison’s father was killed in a single car accident in the summer of 2010, right before he enrolled at Rutgers. Then, last summer, his mother and biggest supporter, Shanda Davis, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After his mother's diagnosis – and an ankle injury that hurt his production late in the 2012 season – Jamison made the decision to enter the NFL draft after only two seasons with the Scarlet Knights. Another injury could damage his earning potential, he reasoned, and his family needed the financial help.

“My mom has been there for me since Day 1,” he said. “She comes to every football game. She travels, even when she was sick. She still came even though I begged her not to. She got out of bed and still came. It definitely drives me.”

A month and a half after the Redskins drafted Jamison in the seventh round, he says his adjustment to the NFL game is going smoothly, adding confidently, “If it keeps coming like this, it’s going to be good for me. I’m just grasping it all.”

Coach Mike Shanahan, though, says the coaching staff won’t really know what Jamison can do until everyone’s in pads. He gained 1,972 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 25 games at Rutgers. But what’s he going to look like when an opposing NFL defense is hunting him in the backfield?

That’s what Shanahan is eager to see from Jamison, who, at 5 foot 7 and 203 pounds, often resembles a pinball as he ricochets through the line of scrimmage.

“With running backs and safeties, a lot of times it’s hard to tell until you get into that first game or second game,” Shanahan said. “It’s a very tough position to evaluate until you get the pads on. He’s going to get his opportunity in a short time to show us what he can do. But right now, he’s just trying to learn the system, the blocking scheme, the combinations, so that when he does play in a game, he doesn’t have to think, he can react.”

To secure a job, Jamison must continue to standout in practice and, of course, shine in the preseason, which begins Aug. 8 at Tennessee. He’ll also need to beat out a handful of good players. After Morris, the Redskins’ depth chart includes Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr., Chris Thompson, Keiland Williams and Tristan Davis.

It’s not going to be easy. Royster and Helu are third-year vets whom the coaches like. And Thompson, another promising youngster, was selected two rounds ahead of Jamison.

But Jamison wouldn’t have it any other way. As his personal story suggests, he thrives in adverse situations.

“Being picked in the seventh round,” he said with a smile, “that makes the chip on my shoulder even bigger. It makes me want to work that much harder.”