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Bills' rookie cornerback Taron Johnson key piece in dominant nickel defense

Instead of what's become a weekly look at the Buffalo Bills' nickel defense, I'm deviating to a more specific evaluation of who's been the star of that personnel grouping, rookie nickel cornerback Taron Johnson.

The fourth-round pick out of Weber State has been as reliable as they come this season, and he's battled through a nagging shoulder injury, only missing one game in the process.

Despite playing in nine of the Bills' 10 games thus far, Johnson has been on the field for 51.7 percent of the team's defensive snaps, the second-most among cornerbacks currently on the roster.

He has 35 total tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack.

But Johnson's positive impact for the Bills goes well behind the traditional stat sheet.

According to Pro Football Focus, he's allowed just 0.74 yards per coverage snap, a metric used to help determine coverage efficiency for corners. Johnson's figure is tied for ninth among all cornerbacks who've at least played 20 percent of their respective team's snaps this season.

(Bills' No. 1 corner Tre'Davious White is second in that statistic.)

Rookie Taron Johnson trying to erase Bills' fourth-round history

He's been targeted 40 times and allowed 25 receptions for just 156 yards with two touchdowns allowed and one pick, all of which equates to a 76.7 passer rating, the second-lowest among qualifying rookie corners.

Also, Johnson's been very effective against the run. He has six run-game "stops" – which constitutes a loss for the offense based on down and distance – on 93 run-stopping snaps thus far, meaning his run-stop percentage is 6.5, the third-best figure among all qualifying players at his position.

Heading into the bye week, Buffalo's normal nickel package has yielded just 6.46 yards per attempt, eight touchdowns, eight picks, a completion percentage of 61.2 and a quarterback rating of 76.7 ... and Johnson has played a vital role in the dominant play of that personnel grouping for the Bills.

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