Open locker room: "Not the Average Joe"

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Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during pregame warm-ups against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL preseason game Thursday, August 22, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Fl. (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)

JACKSONVILLE – This is Jalen Ramsey's kind of game.

An elite opponent.

A high-profile matchup.

A big-time situation.

Ramsey, the Jaguars' perennial Pro Bowl cornerback, said Thursday there's a reason he is easily motivated for a game such as Sunday's regular-season opener – when facing a big-time receiver such as Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs – compared to a game when he's facing "an Average Joe."

"'Cause I'm not the Average Joe," Ramsey said as the Jaguars prepared to play the defending AFC West Champion Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"I want to be the best, and you have to go up against the top guys on other teams all the time. That's my role on this team – to take away the top receiver week in and week out. I just go out and do my job."

Ramsey was among multiple players speaking to the media after practice as Thursday as the team returned to practice after having Wednesday off with Hurricane Dorian threatening the Jacksonville area. We'll get into comments from quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Chris Conley later in this story.

While Ramsey also said he's motivated for any receiver on any team, defensive coordinator Todd Wash said the fourth-year veteran understandably "is locked in" this week.

"When he gets challenged, that's when he's his best," Wash said Thursday. "It's the same thing with the good wideouts in the league. When they get to go against Jalen or the other elite corners, they get excited. Everybody in this league better be a competitor, so Jalen's locked in.

"I think he's looking forward to it and I really look forward to watching him play Sunday."

Wash, the Jaguars defensive coordinator in each of Ramsey's four seasons NFL season, said he has noticed growth in Ramsey on and off the field entering this season.

"Each year, he's matured," Wash said. "His prep has always been good. He's always studied wideouts, He has a heck of a notebook on the wideouts in the league. But you see his prep getting better and better."

While Ramsey this past offseason cautioned observers that he wasn't necessarily a vocal leader in the traditional NFL sense, Wash said he also has seen growth in that area.

"He's talked to the defense and to the defensive backs a couple of times already this year," Wash said. "He hasn't done that in the past. We appreciate how he's maturing and trying to take that leadership role."

Ramsey's matchup with Hill, a 2019 Pro Bowl wide receiver, is far from his only matchup with a top receiver this season. The Jaguars will face the Houston Texans (DeAndre Hopkins) in Weeks 2 and 9, the New Orleans Saints (Michael Thomas) in Week 6, the Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green) in Week 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mike Evans) in Week 13, the Los Angeles Chargers (Keenan Allen) in Week 14, the Oakland Raiders (Antonio Brown) in Week 15 and the Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones) in Week 16.

"I don't really look at it like that," Ramsey said. "Every year I have challenges. I have to go against top receivers kind of week in and week out. … I look forward to all of it. I look forward to the challenges and battles. I have to out there and go win on Sunday. …

"It's cool. I'm glad the schedule is packed."

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Foles, who will make his first Jaguars start Sunday after signing in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent from Philadelphia, reiterated what Head Coach Doug Marrone said earlier Thursday – that the oblique injury that caused him to be listed on the injury report is "no issue." "We've been working through it," Foles said. "It felt good to be out there [Thursday]." Foles also discussed his relationship with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, for whom Foles played as a rookie in Philadelphia in 2012 and again with the Chiefs in 2016. Foles said Reid taught him how to be a professional as a rookie and helped him when Foles considered retiring before joining the Chiefs in '16. "When I was going to step away from the game, he was someone who was always supportive of me and always there," Foles said. "That's something I admire about him. Even when he wasn't my coach, he still looked out. He was a big part of me coming back and playing and sort of finding the joy of football again." …

*Conley, like Foles, will play against his former team Sunday. Conley, who likely will start opposite Dede Westbrook, signed as an unrestricted free agent from Kansas City in the offseason. Like Foles, Conley said he has high respect for Reid and the Chiefs' organization. "I don't think it will be too difficult for me," Conley said. "I've never been a guy who's been overly emotional – like really high or really low. I try to stay even. I lean on my teammates when I do start getting high or low. This is a situation I've never encountered before. I have no idea what it's going to be like or what it's going to feel like. All I can do right now is prepare to play my game. I'm fierce competitor and that's not going to change even when I'm lining up against a guy I've known for a long time."

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