8:02 PM ET
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey isn’t sure — or at least isn’t saying — how he’ll be deployed against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.
But, speaking Monday via Zoom conference, Ramsey didn’t leave much doubt about what he’d like his role to be: covering star Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Asked by Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin whether he’s lobbied to draw Chase as his primary assignment, Ramsey said “of course” but added it’s not quite as simple as that.
“It’s me now, it’s me, keep it real,” Ramsey said. “Of course, that’s what I’m asking for. That’s what I want. Whoever you think their best man is, put me on him. Let me help the team win this game. That’s what it’s all about.
“There are different areas where we might have to do something different because it might put the team in a better position to win. So, wherever the game may take us, it will take us and we are going to do what we’ve got to do from there. But you’re going to get to see that matchup, you’re going to have the opportunity to see it and I’m going to be ready for it.”
Earlier in the day, Chase noted Ramsey’s size and speed as his greatest strengths, and fellow Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd praised Ramsey, who has earned five Pro Bowl and three All Pro honors since 2017, for those traits and more.
“I think he’s definitely probably the best cornerback in the NFL,” Boyd said. “He’s a great player and he understands his assignments, he understands how to play football and he does a great job of doing that. So, we’ve got to be at our best — any one of us — when we go out there and line up in front of him to figure out ways to win our matchup.”
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Ramsey’s highest shadow rates this season have come since Week 12 and against traditional No. 1 receivers. That includes a season-high 69% against Tampa Bay‘s Mike Evans in the NFC Divisional Playoffs and 58% against Minnesota‘s Justin Jefferson in Week 16.
It remains to be seen if Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will ask Ramsey to shadow Chase or, if he does, how long it will last.
“Jalen is one of one and I would put Jalen on anybody in the history of our game,” Morris said. “That’s just how I feel about Jalen. That has nothing to do with Ja’Marr Chase. That has nothing to do with Tee Higgins. That has nothing to do with Tyler Boyd. They should feel the same way … It just so happens we’re going to dictate the terms that day because we’re going to decide within these next couple of weeks of practice and let’s get to the game and figure it out and let the best man win.”
Regardless of how the matchups play out, Sunday’s perimeter battles will be strength against strength. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow led the NFL in QBR on passes outside the numbers and Chase led the league in touchdown catches on such throws. The Rams, meanwhile, allowed the second lowest QBR and fewest touchdown passes on attempts outside the numbers this season.
Ramsey, who spent time Monday discussing how far he’s come since the Jacksonville Jaguars traded him to the Rams on Oct. 15, 2019, said he’s doing his best to treat this week as any other as he appears in his first Super Bowl. It’s a moment Ramsey says he will cherish and one he believes Chase will as well, regardless of how often they line up across from each other.
“This is normal,” Ramsey said. “I’ve been the best in the game for years now, consistently showing greatness week in and week out. So, it’s another workday at the office for me on Sunday. I don’t really think about what anybody says about what I should do or how I should play, I have consistently been great over the years. So, I have shown that I will show up when I need to show up and that’s what I plan to do again on Sunday.”
Source: ESPN NFL