Tre'Davious White is making the Buffalo Bills look pretty smart.
The rookie cornerback was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for September on Thursday. That would be an accomplishment even if White was drafted 10th overall in April. But consider that the team traded down in the 2017 NFL Draft before selecting him – picking up a 2018 first-round pick from Kansas City for doing so – and it's looking like a stroke of genius.
The 22-year-old from LSU leads the NFL with seven passes defensed. The analytics website Pro Football Focus ranks White tied for sixth among all cornerbacks, with Denver's Aqib Talib. According to PFF's tracking, White has given up nine completions on 18 targets for 144 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Quarterbacks have a 53.9 rating when throwing at White.
“When they told me, I thought I was going to get a trophy,” White joked Thursday. “I'm like, man, it's just for the internet basically. Seriously, though, it's a tremendous honor. It's something I set as one of my goals. When I came to the NFL, I said I wanted to be defensive rookie of the year, so I'm off to a great start. It's a testament to my coaching staff and teammates putting me in a position to make plays.
Against Denver on Sunday, White was targeted eight times, allowing four receptions for 65 yards while making his first career interception.
"I’m not so sure that they were necessarily making it a point to go after him, maybe they did, but they have two good receivers that balance out their offense, on both sides of the ball," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "Whether they were throwing it on one side or the other, they were going at someone. … He didn’t back down. He competed like crazy.”
* * *
Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus practiced fully for the Bills on Thursday a day after being limited, a good sign for his possible availability Sunday against Atlanta. Dareus sat out the Week Three win over Denver because of an ankle injury.
“He practiced fully today and looked good out there,” McDermott said.
Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn was the only member of the Bills not to practice Thursday. He missed the Denver game because of a right ankle injury and continued soreness in his left foot, an injury that dates back to the spring.
“Where we were last week, we're a little bit ahead of that, but obviously not practicing today, we'll see,” McDermott said. “If we don't get him on the practice field tomorrow, it's going to be hard. Still day to day at this point.”
McDermott said Glenn’s long-term prognosis hasn’t changed despite the nagging nature of his injury.
“We're still optimistic,” he said. “I don't feel like, from the information that I've been given, that there's been any setback. We're still moving in the right direction, it's just taking a little longer than we thought. We'll see how he is tomorrow and then heading into the weekend.”
The Bills have lost only six games to injury for players on the 53-man roster in the first three weeks of the season. A concussion has kept Jerel Worthy out for all three games, while Tanner Vallejo missed the opener because of a knee injury. Glenn and Dareus missed Week Three.
* * *
The Falcons’ injury report was unchanged from Wednesday, meaning safety Ricardo Allen (concussion), linebacker Vic Beasley (hamstring), tackle Ryan Schraeder (concussion), defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee) and running back Terron Ward (neck/shoulder) did not participate.
Star receiver Julio Jones was a limited for a second straight day, but told the Falcons’ official website “I’m great.” He’s expected to play. Defensive end Jack Crawford (shoulder) was also limited for Atlanta.
* * *
On the first play of the fourth quarter of Atlanta’s Week Three win over Detroit, receiver Taylor Gabriel sprinted to the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown.
Gabriel wouldn’t have made it to the end zone without good lead blocks from left tackle Jake Matthews and left guard Andy Levitre, a former Bill.
“That play symbolizes a lot of what the team is – the unselfishness,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told the team’s website. “Although Gab caught the pass at 0 yards, it was Jake and Andy hauling down the field to try and spring him.”
Levitre is enjoying a career resurgence with Atlanta. After leaving the Bills – who drafted him in the second round in 2009 – for a big-money contract with Tennessee, he lasted just two seasons with the Titans before being traded to Atlanta. He has started all 35 games with the Falcons, and ranks as the 12th-best guard in the NFL, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus. PFF has charged Levitre with allowing just three quarterback hurries in 102 pass-blocking snaps.