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.
"We were in zero coverage and that's me against him. He got me that route, he kind of got inside of me," Burris said. "I had to speed-turn on it and I just didn't catch up to him at the time. That's just technique, that's just me. I should have made the play, I should have locked it down."
"Obviously he got beat on a deep ball. We were in (cover) zero, so he should have stayed up in press," added head coach Todd Bowles. "He kind of backed off and got in no man's land and got indecisive and I think that caused him to get beat on the play. But overall I thought he played well."
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.
"It was a go route. I knew they were going to throw deep to No. 11 and I knew they were coming at me," said Burris, who had six interceptions at NC State. "So I tried to get my head back, find the ball and just made the play."
In just a few days, Burris will line up against a legend in Patriots QB Tom Brady. Known for his physicality, the 6'1", 212-pound Burris will attempt to prevent the big plays by tackling well in space. His education is ongoing and these reps at corner are invaluable.
"I think it's great," he said. "Obviously as a team we're not doing as well as we know we can be, but personally I'm trying to get better and this experience and these plays and reps are going to help me for later on."