BOSTON (CBS) — Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is not afraid to offer up his opinion of anyone in the NFL, and he gave a pretty straightforward assessment of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski over the offseason.
The young and talented defensive back doesn’t think New England’s All Pro is all he’s cracked up to be, saying he doesn’t think Gronkowski is “as great as people think he is.” That’s quite the opinion on a man who very well may go down as the greatest tight end to play the sport of football, one that was likely uttered in hopes getting into Gronk’s head.
Gronkowski punted on a response when asked about Ramsey’s comments last week, but with the Patriots and Jaguars set to square off on Sunday, there was no getting around it when the tight end took the podium at Gillette Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
“If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” said Gronkowski. “It’s a big game Sunday. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to go against him and he’ll have the opportunity to go against me. I just have to do my job on the field.”
Given the game is a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, and the two teams will likely be battling for the top spots in the AFC this season, there is plenty of motivation already heading into the early season clash. He juggled whether or not that slight from Ramsey will be a motivating factor come Sunday, but it certainly seems like it will be on his mind.
“It does and it doesn’t, [but] it motivates you hearing that. Obviously there is something out there that he saw where I can get better at,” said Gronk, adding later that he puts Ramsey among the NFL’s best trash talkers. “You don’t always feel your best every day on the field. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”
If the two do indeed match up against each other Sunday, you can bet there will be a few words exchanged. But Gronk will be certain to keep calm and not cost his team any unnecessary yards in such an important game.
“There can always be talking going back and forth. You just have to keep your cool. I don’t see a benefit for getting a 15-yard penalty on the field because you lost your cool,” he said. “You just need to keep your head straight, keep your cool and play ball.”
Asked if he preferred to go against cornerbacks or linebackers, which was a big part of Ramsey’s criticism, Gronk had some fun with the inquiry.
“I like going against D-Linemen,” he said with a giant smirk. “Not in the blocking game, but when they drop into the passing game.”
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was asked about his cornerback’s comments Wednesday on a conference call with the New England media. He said that he and Ramsey have had chats about his open criticism of opposing players, but didn’t divulge what those talks entailed.
“Obviously, those conversations remain between me and the player and I’ve said that before. I know that I have the greatest amount of respect for Rob,” said Marrone. “I’ve known him a long time, know his dad, family, the whole nine yards, and we’ve played against him quite a bit and we have a ton of respect for him. He’s probably one of the best guys, if not the best, that’s ever played the game at his position, and we know that he’s a challenge in many different ways in what he can do. That’s how I feel and that’s how our team feels.”
Ramsey shared a much nicer opinion on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he broke down all the QBs in the NFL, generously placing the future Hall of Famer in the “doesn’t suck” portion of his list. Brady seems OK with that assessment.
“I never want to suck, so I don’t want to be in that category,” the quarterback said with a smirk.
Ramsey talks a big game, and he usually backs it up. We’ll see if he gets the opportunity to do it again Sunday against Gronkowski.
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