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Juston Burris knew the Dolphins were going to target him Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Primarily a special teams contributor early in the season, the fourth-round pick from NC State was making his first career start.
“I knew they were going to come at me because it was my first start as a rookie,” he said. “I just wanted to step up to the challenge to help this defense and just try to lock down my side of the field because I knew they weren’t going to go at Rev. That’s Darrelle Revis, so I knew they were going to come at me. I just tried to play with technique and not let the moment get too big.”
The Jets dominated the opening quarter of action, but the Dolphins responded and the two teams were locked in a tight affair midway through the second quarter. Lining up in off coverage on a third-down blitz, Burris stuck with WR Kenny Stills on a curl route and was credited with a PD. But with 2:06 remaining in the half, Stills got a free release on the rookie and the result was a 52-yard scoring reception.
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Throughout training camp, Burris displayed a knack for resiliency. He would give up a big play and then he would answer with a play of his own. And on Saturday night, Burris showed what he is made of on the Dolphins’ next possession. Moore threw incomplete to Burris’ side on second down and he went after the rookie on third down as well. But this time, Burris closed well on a vertical ball down the sideline to WR DeVante Parker and he recorded his first INT of his career.
“Juston Burris played very well at the end of the season and showed a lot of potential,” said general manager Mike Maccagnan. “He’s a big, physical corner that fits Todd’s defense well.”
The secondary could have a familiar personnel in 2017 as the only scheduled free agents are S Antonio Allen (UFA) and CB Marcus Williams (RFA), but the unit has a new sheriff in DB coach Dennard Wilson.
Future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis didn’t meet his own expectations on the outside and the cheap Jets jerseys struggled to find consistency elsewhere as the DBs seemingly never completely turned the collective corner. But there were encouraging signs late with a pair of young corners flashing in limited playing time. Juston Burris, a fourth-round pick from NC State, and Darryl Roberts, a waiver claim from the Patriots, recorded six PDs and eight PDs respectively. Those totals ranked tied for third and tied for first on a team that finished with 59 PDs in all.
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But there was also his over-the-shoulder 40-yard snare in the first quarter, his 21-yard third-down converter in the second, and his sliding 23-yard snare late in the game. Add his 3-yard grab that maybe should have gone for 4 yards and another first down early on and he enjoyed the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
“Definitely confidence and comfortability are key to why that’s happening,” Enunwa told me today of his return to the forefront of the passing attack after a couple of one-catch games against the Dolphins and Rams. “I think without those two things, a lot of the plays that I’m making this year wouldn’t be happening.”
We’ve mentioned some of the second-year man’s receiving distinctions as he’s emerged, and here’s another: Enunwa became only the 11th different player in Jets history to grab at least four 20-yard catches in a game, the first to do it since Santana Moss against Minnesota in 2002, and the first to do it with at least one TD catch since Al Toon at Seattle in 1986.
“I’m extremely confident that I’m still an elite receiver,” he said. “I still demand double coverage, I still demand a lot of attention. And that’s really good because that gives our other receivers 1-on-1 matchups or they get a chance to go against the No. 2, No. 3 corners on the other side. When we have the talent that we have with Quincy [Enunwa] and Robby [Anderson] and with Decker getting healthy, those guys are uncoverable. So I think I’m still at the level where I can demand that type of respect, that type of coverage.