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Buffalo Bills CB Dane Jackson spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad though he shined when he had opportunities in limited gameplay in 2020 after being drafted in the seventh round out of Pitt.
He has continued to see more field time in his second season and will start on Monday in the absence of star corner Tre’Davious White.
“Oh, it’s a huge opportunity,” Jackson said to the media on Friday. “I’ve been telling myself since it happened, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is what I’ve been dreaming of. This is what I’ve been working for. Obviously, I didn’t want it to happen the way it happened, but this is my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m ready to take advantage of it.”
Jackson has been very conscious and aware of his role during his time in Buffalo, as well as the importance of preparing for moments like this one.
“I’m a backup, so ultimately, I have to prepare like a starter because you never know what’s going to happen here or there,” he added. “There’s nothing changing in my routine, I just keep getting more confidence from the guys that’s been out there all season. I just roll with the punches.”
Jackson, who has had some experience filling in for White, will play the short field-side opposite Levi Wallace who will cover the wide side. Jackson’s background with zone and man-to-man coverage will come in handy as he’s able to adjust as needed similar to White.
He also voiced his support for fellow starter Wallace, saying “if something bad happens he’ll be right there to pick me up and I’ll do the same.”
In many ways, Jackson’s experiences both on and off the field throughout his young life have molded the work ethic and toughness he’s become known for.
“My first four years of college or starting my senior year of high school I lost four of my closest friends you know back to back to back to back. And at some point, some people may want to give up but that just made me push harder and made me want to see myself succeed even more. So I use that as fuel to the fire,” Jackson shared.
“You just have to be strong-minded. Growing up I faced a lot of adversity so this is nothing different. You just have to be strong-minded and deal with anything that comes your way. As a backup, you don’t know if you’ll play one play or 99 plays so you just have to be ready at any moment.”
“We love Dane, just what he’s been able to do the last couple of years, coming here and working every day,” Hyde said during Friday’s press session. “Whenever his number is called, he goes to work. And we have a saying around here, work while you wait. While you’re waiting to get in the game, you’re putting in the time, the film work, the film study, the fieldwork, all that type of stuff. So, Dane’s been a part of that process. And he understands that he has to step in.”
He continued to share expectations and Jackson’s role with the team.
“Dane’s been a part of that process and he understands that he has to step in. We’re not asking him to be Tre’Davious White by any means, we’re not asking him to be All-Pro and shut down every single receiver and follow the best receivers and do all that type of stuff. We’re just asking him to do his job and everybody else on the defensive side step up your role up a little bit more,”
Hyde’s fellow safety, Poyer echoed a similar sentiment in complimenting Jackson as a teammate ahead of Monday’s Nationally televised matchup with the division-rival Patriots.
“I mean he knows the system,” Poyer said during his media session. “He trusts the guys around him. We tell him all the time, he’s not out there alone. He doesn’t gotta do anything other than be Dane Jackson. He’s got his teammates around him. … We’ve got all the faith in the world in Dane. He’s come in and he’s made a lot of plays.”
While Jackson’s received these votes of confidence from his coaches as well, he’s also had some additional support in his game preparations. From his Mother, that is.
“She’s been texting me every day but it’s not like other people texting me like ‘you ready, you ready?’ She’s just making sure I’m good, making sure my mind’s right, making sure my body’s right and she just tells me like just make sure you’re good like don’t worry about what other people say you know we got a big job to do come Monday night so just block out all of the noise and be ready.”