Cornerback A.J. Jefferson has been a bright spot so far in this (thus far) disappointing 2011 season for the Arizona Cardinals. He caught my attention the first day of camp when he was lined up against Larry Fitzgerald. He hasn't been perfect by any means, but he is covering pretty well and tackles well, something that Ray Horton wants from his defensive backs.
With a single game grade of +3.7, Jefferson had the highest game rating at his position. PFF wrote this:
Jefferson has turned out to be quite the revelation for the Cardinals, breaking up two of the six passes thrown his way, and coming up to help in run defense with five defensive stops on the day.
In another article, they wrote this:
Amongst the swathes of poor play from both sides, one bright spot shone in the Arizona secondary and that was A.J. Jefferson (+3.7). Jefferson provided a spark in both run and pass defense, only being downgraded twice for two first down receptions, one each for Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu. However aside from those two plays Jefferson had an excellent day in coverage, and in registering three stops in run defense Jefferson was particularly impressive with his tackling in space. A stop on Adrian Peterson, when the Vikings' three tight ends had made solid blocks to spring Peterson off left end with just Jefferson in his way, was particularly impressive. Jefferson stood up to the challenge (Q4 6:02) to bring Peterson down for a 2 yard gain on 2nd and 4. Throw in a couple of pass defenses and the Cardinal will be very happy to see more of the same from Jefferson.
Jefferson got the PFF game ball as well.
On the season, Jefferson has the third highest PFF rating on the defense behind Darnell Dockett and Daryl Washington.
He definitely has improvements to make still, but I for one am pleased with how he has done. With him, a healthy Greg Toler, a more experienced Patrick Peterson and Richard Marshall, the corner position is in good shape for teh near future.