The Buffalo Bills announced Friday star cornerback Tre'Davious White will miss the remainder of the 2021 NFL season because of a torn ACL.
White, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, suffered the knee injury during Thursday's 31-6 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Losing one of the league's best corners is a major blow to a Buffalo team with Super Bowl aspirations fueled by a major defensive resurgence this season.
The Bills ranked second in total defense in 2018 and third in 2019. While quarterback Josh Allen and the team's offense enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign, the defense didn't live up to the same high standard, dropping to 14th in total defense.
White and Co. returned to form in the first half of this season. They lead the league in total defense in large part thanks to their success defending the pass. They rank first in opponent passer rating (62.8) and second in passing yards allowed per game (178.5).
The 2017 first-round pick recorded 41 total tackles, six passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble in 11 games while often being matched up with the opponent's top wide receiver this season.
"I hope nothing's too serious, and I know all the guys in the locker room are praying for him and hurting with him," Allen told reporters after the Thanksgiving Day game. "You can't say a single bad thing about that man. He comes in and busts his ass every day."
Safety Micah Hyde added: "Obviously Tre'Davious is a huge playmaker for us and just his presence on the football field is unmatched, and hopefully he's healthy."
Simply put, Buffalo doesn't have another corner capable of playing White's critical role.
Levi Wallace has endured an up-and-down four-year career as the Bills' No. 2 corner, and Taron Johnson is at his best while playing in the slot, where he'll likely stay following White's injury.
Dane Jackson, a 2020 seventh-round selection, stepped into the lineup Thursday and will likely become a full-time starter moving forward. He's shown glimpses of developing into a starting-level cornerback, but trying to contain No. 1 receivers would be a big ask.
A lot of pressure will fall onto the shoulders of the safety tandem of Hyde and Jordan Poyer to help erase some of the mistakes sure to come from either Wallace or Jackson in their new, more difficult roles.
All told, along with Allen and linebacker Matt Milano, White was one of the select few players the Bills couldn't afford to lose without putting their Super Bowl hopes in serious danger.
Making matters worse, next up for the Bills (7-4) is a crucial AFC East matchup against the New England Patriots (7-4) in Week 13.