Unlike some of the receivers he covered, Jalen Ramsey regards Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown highly.
From running good routes to making difficult catches, Ramsey says Brown can do it all.
And Ramsey, considered one of the league’s top cover cornerbacks, can’t wait to see how he measures up against Brown for the second time this season in Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh.
As in October, when the Jaguars routed the Steelers, 30-9, it’s the marquee matchup again.
All-Pro vs. All-Pro.
Trash Talker vs. Trash Talker.
Undaunted vs. Fearless.
“Great opportunity to see what I can do,” Ramsey said. “He’s an elite player, you know highly regarded by everybody honestly around the nation, maybe internationally. So yes, it’s going to be a challenge. We’re going have to be on our P’s and Q’s and try to execute the game plan the best we can.’’
In October, Brown left an lasting impression on Ramsey. They battled. Ramsey got a few individual wins during the game with some deflections and forced incompletions to Brown on passes from Ben Roethlisberger.
Brown enjoyed more than a few wins, too, even though he did most of his damage (10 catches, 157 yards, no TDs) after the outcome was pretty much decided. But Brown also beat Ramsey on a 49-yard catch on the Steelers’ opening offensive drive of the game, which resulted in a field goal.
The Jaguars picked off Roethlisberger five times in the game and sacked him twice.
Ramsey had seven tackles, an interception and four pass deflections.
Though Ramsey didn’t exclusively cover Brown for the entire game, he said Brown was easily the best receiver he’s played against thus far in his career.
Now, all signs indicate Brown will be ready to go against the Jaguars in the rematch after suffering a partially torn left calf muscle in Week 15 against the New England Patriots on Dec. 17.
Brown was forced to miss the final two games of the regular season but he has been a full participant at practices so far this week.
“We just have to watch his progress throughout the week,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “The quality of it. Make sure there are no steps backwards. Make sure it is trending in the right way.”
When Roethlisberger was asked what it was like having Brown back, his response, was, “Awesome.”
A four-time All-Pro, Brown caught 101 passes for 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns this season. A week ago, he was the only unanimous selection to make The Associated Press All-Pro team.
He will be facing a Jaguars defense that, behind Ramsey and cornerback A.J. Bouye, ended the regular season as the top pass defense in the NFL, allowing 169.9 yards per game.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone says the team’s plan to contain Brown will extend beyond just a dual involving Ramsey. Bouye, who also made the Pro Bowl and had six interceptions, will get his opportunities to cover Brown, too.
“We have two (Pro Bowl corners),” Marrone said. “And we’re always looking at which one do we feel matches up best with whatever player rather than we got to match him up with him.”
Safety Barry Church expects Ramsey and Brown are going to have a competitive battle, but the defense also can’t allow wide receivers Martavis Bryant or JuJu Smith-Schuster to break out. In Week 5, the Jaguars limited Smith-Schuster to four catches for 58 yards and Bryant had only 21 yards receiving.
“It’s going to be a heck of a battle between Jalen and Antonio and I’ll be glad to witness it,” Church said. “Any receiver we played against up to now has nothing on him [Brown] because of his quickness and ability to run routes. His ability to run after catches is second to none. No matter where we are (safeties) we have to be aware of him, deep.”