ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When Dane Jackson watches the collision that forced his head and neck to snap backward violently, his back starts to hurt again.
The incidental hit from teammate Tremaine Edmunds as Edmunds tried to make a tackle in the second quarter of a Monday Night Football game vs. the Tennessee Titans earlier this month resulted in Jackson spending several minutes on the ground before he was taken off the field in an ambulance.
Just nine days after that trip to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, the Bills cornerback returned to practice Wednesday and was a limited participant.
“It meant a lot to be back out there with the guys, get moving around,” Jackson said. “It felt like I’d been out for like a month or something. So it felt good being back out there.”
He noted that the ride to the hospital felt long as his head was strapped down and he could not move much for safety reasons.
“It was scary in the hospital not being able to move or anything like that not knowing … really the unknown was the most scary part,” he said. “Once I knew everything was good then I kind of relaxed.”
Jackson, 25, was ultimately found to have no structural damage but has experienced soreness in his neck. Once that soreness goes away, he said he’ll be 100%.
“I was just really worried about my future at that point,” Jackson said of his mindset before knowing the diagnosis. “I wasn’t worried about anything football related. I was worried about my son [Dane Jr.] at home, my mom [Joy Faulkner], I know everybody was crying. My girl was right next to me, so it was an emotional roller coaster, really.”
The cornerback shared his appreciation for all the support he received, including letters and even Edible Arrangements sent to his home.
“After you’re on the good side of it now, you kind of joke with him and say, man, ‘You got a slinky neck. And if you didn’t have a loose neck like that, man, it could have been a little bit worse,'” Bills teammate Von Miller said.
“… But it definitely was a serious situation. And it’s just the ugly side of our sport, man. It’s just a true blessing that he was able to come out all right. And he’s here at practice. And he should be ready to go this week. And it’s just a true blessing. Like he’s got some angels over for him.”
“It’s just a true blessing that he was able to come out all right. … Like he’s got some angels over for him.”
Von Miller on teammate Dane Jackson
Jackson was at practice all last week, but just stood to the side watching. He earned a starting job this year after his performance in training camp and the preseason, plus his experience in the defense, despite the Bills drafting a corner at No. 23 (Kaiir Elam) and in the sixth round (Christian Benford). With top cornerback Tre’Davious White still on reserve/PUP while rehabbing a torn ACL, Jackson became the No. 1 corner in his place.
The 2020 seventh-round pick was one of several secondary injuries that the Bills have had to start the season. Safety Micah Hyde also went to the hospital with a neck injury suffered in the Titans game and is now on injured reserve for the season. Safety Jordan Poyer missed the Bills’ Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins with a foot injury, but was limited in practice Wednesday. Benford broke his right hand during the Miami loss and will miss about a couple of weeks.
“For me it was just like, dang, I want to be out there,” Jackson said of the number of injuries. “It was tough because like I said everything checked out structurally so in my mind I want to play. But my body says, you’re sore, sit down. So, it’s kind of tough for me just being in that position, but everybody else did their thing and shoutout to the young guys that came in and did their thing.”
But Jackson hasn’t been ruled out from returning to the field Sunday vs. the Baltimore Ravens, saying he’ll take it one day at a time and see how he feels when he wakes up Thursday morning.
“Usually what happens [with injuries] is you ramp them up a little bit today, like we’re going to do with Dane, and then see how he is when he comes back in tomorrow and then assess and then try to ramp him even further in the next day,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “So that’s usually the progression if you will. And hopefully that’s the case with Dane.”