JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rob Gronkowski is a ferocious blocker, a nightmare to tackle and has the soft hands of a wide receiver. He is arguably the best tight end in NFL history.
None of that means anything to Jalen Ramsey.
“I don’t fear no man, period,” the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ third-year cornerback said Thursday afternoon. “So he’s going to have to come out there and line up on me. Or however it goes. He’s got to play us this year.”
Ramsey vs. Gronkowski will be the marquee matchup Sunday when the New England Patriots visit TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars aren’t saying how they’re planning to deal with the 6-foot-6, 268-pound Gronkowski, but the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Ramsey will get his share of snaps against him.
The two were matched up for a few snaps in January’s AFC Championship Game, and Ramsey and the Jaguars held Gronkowski to just one catch for 21 yards before Gronkowski left the game late in the first half after suffering a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit by safety Barry Church.
Throw in Ramsey’s comment to ESPN The Magazine this offseason that Gronkowski isn’t as great as people think he is, and things ramp up to another level.
Reminded of those comments Thursday — and told that Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said that anyone who believes Gronkowski is overrated is crazy — Ramsey just shrugged.
“Might be crazy,” Ramsey said. “I don’t care.”
“… He’s good. He’s good, now. We ain’t going to get it twisted. He’s good, but, you saying this to me, is this supposed to bring fear to me or something?”
Ramsey is expected to unleash a ton of trash talk on Gronkowski on Sunday, which is his normal routine. He’s even that way with players he likes and respects, such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown.
It’s nasty on the field, and that’s the only way he wants it to be. That goes for anybody. Even his grandmother.
“When you play the game of football, I feel like, to respect the game, you have to play it fierce,” Ramsey said. “I don’t believe in having friends on the field. I mean, my brother, my dad, my mom, grandma was out there, it’s on. After the game we can be cool. It doesn’t matter. That’s how I feel like you’ve got to respect the game of football.
“Football is not a game meant to be played being nice to each other and all that, like Kumbaya. But after the game’s over with, that’s cool.”
So does that mean he’d knock out his own grandmother?
“I definitely would,” Ramsey said. “She knows that. Grandma, know that I love you, but she knows that. Would she hit me back? Grandma might not get up from one of my licks.”
So Gronkowski should expect the grandma treatment on Sunday — if Ramsey lines up on him.
“I’m going to go out there and do whatever the coach asks me to do,” Ramsey said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m very confident in all of my teammates on the defensive side of the ball. Whoever goes against him, I’m very confident they’ll hold it down and I’ll do my job and I’ll hold it down where I’m at.”