OAKLAND – All it took was one drive for the talent, tackling ability and penchant for finding the football J.J. Wilcox demonstrated throughout the offseason and training camp to become apparent in a game.
Wilcox recorded six tackles, one of which likely prevented a touchdown, and secured his first NFL interception all on a single drive in the second quarter against the Raiders. As the second-team defense wore down, Wilcox didn't.
"It was kind of just being in the right spot at the right time making plays for my teammates," Wilcox said. "That's the main thing. I don't want to be caught out of position. With that being said, it felt good. It's kind of bad when they're coming to the secondary, but as long as I can be there and make plays for my teammates, I'm proud."
The pick against Terrelle Pryor was the first of Wilcox's preseason and career, as the Georgia Southern product demonstrated why he'd been so intriguing throughout camp. Pryor rolled to his right and threw across his body, and Wilcox put himself in position for the pick.
Wilcox said he knew where Pryor was going and caught the ball in the end zone. He nearly took the ball out, but he stayed put for a touchback.
"I want to thank the coaching staff," Wilcox said. "They gave me a heads up before the play was called, and I played it pretty good. One quarterback rule, you're never supposed to throw across your shoulder, so when I saw him load up and throw the other way, I just jumped for it."
The trick now for Wilcox, who's a relative novice at the position, is developing consistency.
Wilcox stayed on the field longer than most defenders, starting the second half as well. He took a bad angle on a crossing route near midfield, resulting in a 40-yard catch and run for Oakland receiver Brice Butler, who ended the drive with another 30-yard touchdown catch down the deep right side of the field.
"When you think you're good, you've got a lot of work to do," Wilcox said. "I did pretty good in the first half, and in the second half I came out and missed that tackle. I take pride in tackling, so I'm definitely going to work hard after practice and during practice to improve on that."
Wilcox knows he wasn't in the right position, and he said he takes pride in taking the right angles to the ball.
The safety finished the game Friday against the Raiders with fewer mistakes and more standout plays than he did a week prior. Head coach Jason Garrett called out Wilcox and most of the rookies after that opening game and said they needed to play more consistently.
Wilcox is fine with the tough love and appreciates that his coaches care that much about him.
"When I was a little kid, my dad was on me hard," Wilcox said. "At college, my head coach was on me hard. Even here, I see Coach Garrett on me hard. That's the way I've been blessed and fortunate to have some coaches that really care about me and want to push me and see me do the best."