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Bills' Dane Jackson Ready for Challenge Ahead

The new starting cornerback has an all-star support group helping him out every step of the way.

All of Dane Jackson's Buffalo Bills teammates and coaches have been saying the same thing for more than a week about his new role as a starting cornerback: They don't need him to be Tre'Davious White. That would be unrealistic. They just need him to play like they know he can.

Friday, it was Jackson's turn to address his new role following the season-ending knee injury White sustained on Thanksgiving night in a 31-6 win at New Orleans.

White is a former first-team All-Pro who has been named to the last two Pro Bowls. A seventh-round pick out of Pitt a year ago, Jackson will be making just his third career start and first this season.

"I've just been doing the same thing I've been doing all year," Jackson said. "I'm a backup. So ultimately I have to prepare like a starter because you never know what's going to happen. ... So it's not going to change any of my routine. Just keep getting more confidence from the guys that's been out there all season. You know, just roll with the punches."

At the same time, Jackson can't deny how much things have changed.

"It's a huge opportunity," he admitted. "I've been telling myself it happened [that] it's the opportunity of a lifetime. Like this is what I've been dreaming of, this is what I've been working for.

"Obviously I didn't want it to happen the way it happened. But, you know, this is my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I'm ready to take advantage of it."

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Jackson competed with Levi Wallace for the starting job opposite White in the preseason.

He didn't lose it. Wallace won it. Yet they never once pulled in opposite directions.

"I don't know if a lot of people know about Levi," Jackson said. "He's one of the smartest people we got in the DB room. Like he's on everything.

"In the summer, we were working out a lot. All the position battles and everything like that, we never looked at it like that we're just coming in and going to work together and I've got a lot of respect for him for that, because even when I came in, he was the first one, one of the first guys when I got drafted to DM me and say `welcome to the team' and all that. So like ever since then, it's been a genuine relationship. And having him on the other side is just like you get that confidence because we built a relationship. You know what I mean?

"We put in time together, so you get that confidence that if something bad happens, you know, he's going to be right there to pick me up. And I'll do the same for him."

The lesson Jackson learned from the the preseason position battle?

"Obviously there's more work to be done," he said. "Maybe I wasn't ready for that position, or maybe the man above wasn't ready to put me in that position. There's just a lot of work to be done.

"I got a lot of areas that I could have improved on, and I worked on those areas to make sure that it won't happen again."

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.