ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – You never know what hidden gems are waiting in the late rounds of the NFL draft. It seems like Bills cornerback Dane Jackson is one of them.
The Bills drafted him in the 7th-round this year and so far during his limited playing time, he’s made some big plays.
On short notice, Jackson had to start opposite of Tre’Davious White against the Cardinals after cornerback Josh Norman tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to Norman not being able to make the trip, the Bills also lost cornerback Levi Wallace, safety Dean Marlowe and tight end Tyler Kroft after it was determined they came in close contact with Norman.
“All of a sudden Saturday as we were heading to the airport we find out that Levi’s not gonna be able to play, Josh is not gonna be able to play, Dean Marlowe and some of are other players as well so we have to go to Dane, we talked to [Daryl] Worley as well,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.
And right away against Arizona, Jackson made his presence known. On the Cardinals opening drive, on 3rd and goal Jackson came up with a huge pass breakup against DeAndre Hopkins.
Wait…DeAndre Hopkins…one of the best wide receivers in the game, that DeAndre Hopkins. Okay, continue.
I’m sure that did wonders for Jackson’s confidence. That play forced Arizona brought up 4th and goal and forced the Cardinals to settle for a field goal on their first series.
“He had very few reps during practice because we were getting Josh back and we were working Levi in and getting our rotation going and so he got very little practice with the starting defense,” Frazier said.
Which makes what he did even more impressive.
Jackson also recovered a fumble Taron Johnson forced in the third quarter and finished the game with eight tackles as well.
“To Dane’s credit even though he wasn’t getting the reps he was paying attention in meetings, he was getting the mental reps in practice and for him to go out and play the way he played, just very, very impressive,” Frazier said.
“I know our secondary coach John Butler spent a lot of time with both he and Daryl on Saturday night just making sure they were up to speed on the game plan but neither one of those guys had really any reps so for Dane to go out and perform at the level that he did against some very, very good wide receivers it’s very impressive, very impressive.”
The Bills activated Wallace, Marlowe and Kroft from the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list but Norman is still on it. Even if they have a healthy secondary ready to go after the bye week against the Chargers, they might want to consider keeping Jackson as the No. 2 cornerback.
Jackson also came up with an interception in his first career start against the Jets in week seven.