It may have taken several years, but second-year safety Jordan Dangerfield is finally beginning to earn the respect that he deserves, and certainly would seem to have solidified his spot on the 53-man roster for a second year in a row following a two-interception performance against the Falcons for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
It was something that he wanted to show that he can do this year, as a player who is frequently regarded as a safety who is better staying up in the box and playing the run rather than dropping back into coverage.
He said that “it felt great” and “incredible” to get his first career interception, and to follow it up with a second a short while later. “Those plays are very important”, he said in the wisdom of a player who spent three years in training camps without making a 53-man roster prior to finally doing so in 2016.
“That is one thing I wanted to show this year, that I can play man coverage, that I can make a play on the ball. I hope that shows them a little something”, he said, according to Teresa Varley for the team’s website.
With both starting safeties missing the first preseason game, Dangerfield started, and he finished the game with three tackles. On Sunday, he came into the game later as a reserve. He made another three tackles in addition to the two interceptions.
He also had a big tackle on special teams against the Falcons, a role that will always be important to any fourth safety on any roster in the NFL. Dangerfield has already shown in the past that he understands the needs for and the ability to earn his keep on special teams, but he is hoping to make headway as a defensive player as well.
Paired with Jacob Hagen with the second-team personnel when he did go into the game on Sunday, Dangerfield spent a lot of his time dropping into deep coverage, with the bigger Hagen even more of a box player than he is. And the second-half defense was much more successful than the first.
For a player who was originally undrafted in 2013 to persevere in pursuit of his NFL dream for this long and to see it finally beginning to play off is something of a joy to see. While he was able to spend some time on practice squads, he was unable to make a team until after his fourth training camp.
While he may not have entered this season quite being considered a lock, I don’t think he should have too much trouble making the 53-man roster a second time, especially after making a few plays in both phases on Sunday.