Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Bradley Roby, CB, Broncos (NFL): Starting in place of injured All-Pro CB Aqib Talib on Sunday, Roby came up with seven tackles and an interception, which he returned 49 yards for a touchdown in Denver’s 27-19 win over the Chargers.
With the Broncos trailing in the second quarter, Roby allowed Chargers WR Tyrell Williams to get a step on him on a drag route across the middle. But the ball popped out of Williams’ hands and Roby was in the right place to catch the deflection and take it to the house untouched.
T.J. Ward, SS, Broncos (NFL): Ward is not new to Denver’s starting lineup. He is the mostly unheralded X-factor of the Broncos defense. (Von Miller deservedly won MVP of Super Bowl 50, but Ward was arguably just as valuable for the champions that day.)
Ward was all over the place during Denver’s win over San Diego on Sunday, recording a team-high 10 tackles to go with one sack and one interception.
D’Cota Dixon, SS, Wisconsin (NCAA): After the Badgers took a 23-17 lead in overtime over 7th-ranked Nebraska on Saturday, their defense needed to keep the Cornhuskers out of the end zone. On fourth down, Dixon broke up a pass intended for Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr., securing the win for Wisconsin. Dixon also had an interception and three tackles in the game.
Leonard Johnson, CB, Panthers (NFL): Starving for solid play at the cornerback position, the Panthers activated Johnson from the non-football injury list — where he’d been all season while recovering from Achilles surgery — before Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
Johnson then came up big in his Carolina debut, a 30-20 victory. Johnson had eight tackles, one sack and one pass breakup. Cam Newton, among other teammates, gave Johnson credit for giving Carolina’s defense a much-needed spark in a game where they sacked QB Carson Palmer eight times and held RB David Johnson to 24 yards rushing.
Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan (NFL): Peppers came to Ann Arbour as a defensive back and looked like a star DB in the making during his freshman year, but he no longer plays in the secondary full-time for the Wolverines. He plays DB part-time, while also playing linebacker, running back, kick returner and Wildcat quarterback on occasion.
In Saturday’s 32-23 win over Michigan State, Peppers had seven tackles, one sack, and he returned a Spartans’ fumble on a two-point conversion with one second left in the game all the way back to put two points on the board for the Wolverines. He also scored a rushing touchdown.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (NCAA): The sophomore corner and kick return ace had six tackles and two interceptions in the 5th-ranked Cardinals’ 32-25 win over Virginia on Saturday.