It’s been a long time coming for Jordan Dangerfield to finally make a team, in his fourth year of trying after originally entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He has progressed each year, logging five weeks on the practice squad in 2014, then all season a year ago.
His roster spot is still very vulnerable, of course, and is likely the 53rd of 53 players, the most likely to be bounced back and forth from the 53-man roster to the practice squad. But he is here for now, and it helped that he proved to be a strong in-the-box defender during the preseason, particularly in the finale against the Panthers.
He did, in fact, make the first play of the game, a tackle at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Lined up deep initially, Dangerfield charged up to the line of scrimmage before the snap, and Carolina was unable to account for him.
While he made plenty of plays—he recorded 10 tackles during the game—his real calling card is simply the fact that he is a big hitter, and he showed that midway through the first quarter following a reception over the middle. Dangerfield lined up the receiver and put a good smack on him as he went down, though he still gained 18 yards.
Late in the quarter, the safety was lined up near the line of scrimmage on the strong side of the formation and was not picked up by the edge blockers, allowing him to get into the backfield to join in on recording a run stop for a gain of just one yard.
Dangerfield also showed good awareness in zone coverage underneath, dropping into an intermediate zone, but sensing that the quarterback under duress would have to check the ball down to the back leaking out of the backfield. He was able to close quickly and tackle the runner after the reception for no gain.
If there was one player in the game who best learned the sort of player that Jordan Dangerfield is, it would have to have been Panthers quarterback Joe Webb, of whom the safety got the better of on a couple of occasions.
In one instance, the mobile quarterback actually put himself in harm’s way as he attempted to throw a block for a teammate, for which Dangerfield made him pay, as seen in the image accompanying the article.
He also put a shot on Webb midway through the third quarter in the red zone on third down, his pressure forcing Webb into getting rid of the ball before he intended.
Dangerfield is and has been more or less the same player he has shown himself to be for years now, though he has perhaps gotten incrementally more consistent. He is on the roster now because there happens to be a place for him. It’s certainly far from unmerited, but still, he knows as well as anybody that his spot is not guaranteed from week to week.