JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey was unusually quiet Thursday, three days before one of the most anticipated matchups of his NFL career.
He was humble. He was focused. He was more of a team player than a look-at-me guy.
He seemed somewhat out of character. But the Jaguars probably liked it after weeks of unrest surrounding their star defensive back.
Ramsey screamed profanities at media members during training camp, got suspended for a week and then created a stir by calling out several quarterbacks in one interview and blasted a few more players in another .
With the season opener against the New York Giants and receiver standout Odell Beckham Jr. looming, Ramsey clammed up.
“Looking forward to it,” said Ramsey, who was added to the injury report because of ankle soreness. “Looking forward to beginning the whole season with the whole team. A lot of people are going to try to make it about me and (Beckham) specifically. That’s not what it’s about. Football is a team game. There’s going to be 11 guys out there for us, 11 guys out there for them. We’re going to have to come together and do what we’ve got to do to try to get a win.”
It wasn’t what anyone expected from the outspoken Ramsey.
Beckham insisted Wednesday that Ramsey won’t get under his skin and there won’t be a repeat of his fight with cornerback Josh Norman in 2016. The three-time All-Pro said he won’t take Ramsey’s bait.
Asked whether that’s easier said than done, Ramsey declined to offer much.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Again, it’s not about me. It’s about the team.”
Ramsey downplayed his ability to talk trash, even though he got into a public spat with now-retired NFL receiver Steve Smith in 2016 and upset Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green so much that Green grabbed Ramsey around the neck and slammed him to the ground last year.
“My play is what really gets people talking, to be honest with you, and that’s just extra on top,” Ramsey said. “I’m going to be me. I don’t think that’s something that we need to continue to talk about week in and week in. I’m going to me.”
Ramsey did acknowledge that he’s fine with playing the role of villain.
“What people who don’t know me think about me doesn’t affect me, how I live my life, how I go about being who I am,” said Ramsey, who became a father for the first time in late July. “I’m not going to change because somebody doesn’t like me. There’s a bunch or more people in the world.”
Many of them will tune in Sunday to watch Ramsey line up across from Beckham, who signed a $95 million extension that made him the highest-paid receiver in the league.
“I think anytime you get two guys like that, that are as big of stars as they are, everybody wants to watch it,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We’ll get our corrections made (on the sideline) and make sure everything’s set offensively for the next series and peek up there as much as possible to see what’s going on with them. I know they’ll both be ready and fired up. It’ll be fun to watch.”
Ramsey surely will have a different demeanor once the game starts. And if he shuts down Beckham, he probably will be even more boisterous.
After all, this is the same guy who made it clear two weeks ago that he was “unapologetic” about anything he said about other NFL players. He also opened camp talking about facing Beckham in the opener.
“Let’s get this out the way right now,” Ramsey said in late July after reporting to camp a few days late . “He is a good receiver. We all know that. But you all know me at the same time. Yeah, he’s good. But I’m good, too. If you want to say he’s the best at his position, I’m the best at my position, so we are going to go at it. We are going to give the people a show the first game of the season.
“He is going to have some wins. I am going to have some wins. I just plan on having more wins. That is the plan I am going to go in there with. … That is what you all asked for as fans of the game, as (fans of) the NFL, everybody. That is what you all asked for. We are going to give it to you, for sure. I know I am.”