Buffalo Bills rookie Tre’Davious White might have had his welcome to the NFL moment during Sunday’s disappointing 20-16 setback against the Cincinnati Bengals.
White, the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, had a humbling performance against star wide receiver A.J. Green. Green finished with seven catches for 189 yards and a touchdown, with White allowing Green to haul in three passes for 131 yards, including a wide-open, 77-yard touchdown strike on Cincinnati’s second drive of the game.
Green also burned White for a 47-yard reception late in the third quarter that set up the go-ahead touchdown. But while White was picked on twice by Andy Dalton on long pass plays for Green, who is considered one of the best receivers in the NFL, White also showed his resiliency.
The rookie, selected 27th overall out of LSU, rebounded from the two long gainers to Green. He broke up three passes, giving him 11 in five games, and White allowed Green to catch only one more pass among the eight times Dalton threw the ball Green’s way with White in coverage.
Through five games, White is in a class by himself, as the impressive rookie is the only player in NFL history to amass 11 pass breakups through five games.
“I would hope we all (learned a lesson today),” first-year head coach Sean McDermott told the media following the loss to the Bengals. “We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to coach better, I’ve got to coach better. That’s what it’s all about — growing. Tre’s a young player, and ... he did some really good things out there. There’s some technique errors, there’s some alignment and assignment things to look at. That’s what the film is for.”
White’s play certainly has made an impression on his teammates, including safety Jordan Poyer, a free-agent signee who along with White and Micah Hyde have revitalized Leslie Frazier’s 4-3 defense.
"I truly believe that Tre White is one of the best corners in the NFL,” Poyer told the media following the loss to Cincinnati. “It's A.J. Green. Those guys get paid, too. White's one of the hardest workers I've been around. As a rookie, just seeing his growth throughout OTAs, throughout training camp until now. I believe he's one of the best corners in the league. He'll learn from his mistakes. We all will."
Pro Football Focus lists White as the No. 2 rated rookie through the first five games of the season. When opposing quarterbacks target White, he has responded, ranking 34th out of 115 qualified cornerbacks with quarterbacks compiling a 77.0 passer rating when they challenge White.
White is going to have his rookie moments. Hopefully he is able to put Sunday’s effort behind him. He certainly has a bright future in Orchard Park.