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CJ Henderson has been one of the standout performers of the Jacksonville Jaguars' new-look defense through the preseason, and his performances leading up to Week 1 have caught eyes outside of Jacksonville as well.

Henderson didn't open the preseason as one of the Jaguars' starting cornerbacks, but three strong performances have earned him a spot on the first-team defense entering the regular-season. And according to Pro Football Focus, there were few cornerbacks better than Henderson in the entire preseason, with Henderson earning the third-best single coverage grade among cornerbacks. 

It is impossible to say Henderson's preseason wasn't a rousing success. Henderson missed the first portions of Jaguars training camp due to a stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, leading to him starting his camp off with the second- and third-team defenses. But through three preseason games, there is an argument to make for Henderson as the Jaguars' top cornerback.

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According to PFF, Henderson was targeted nine times in 55 coverage snaps this preseason. During that period, he allowed five catches for 35 yards (6.0 yards per catch), never allowing more than two catches or more than 15 yards in coverage in any of the three contests. He also recorded three pass breakups in the process, tied for second-most among cornerbacks this preseason.

"CJ came out, he had a couple really good plays on the ball," Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said after Week 1 of the preseason when Henderson recorded two pass breakups. 

"I think there were two plays we could’ve picked off and he hit one of them down there in the red zone. And then they ran a go-route, we had great pressure by Josh [Allen] right in the quarterback’s face, he just threw it up. And then CJ turned around and knocked the ball down. So, those were two really good plays that he had. I think he showed his skillset, his speed."

Henderson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, started and appeared in eight games for the Jaguars as a rookie. He recorded six pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble in his first year as a Jaguar, though his rookie year was cut short due to injuries. 

Henderson is expected to open 2021's regular season as a starter opposite of Shaquill Griffin. Henderson competed with Sidney Jones for a starting role at the outside cornerback in the Jaguars' defense, with Henderson winning out following the conclusion of camp. Jones was subsequently traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2022 sixth-round selection.