JACKSONVILLE – Another week, another elite challenge.
That's Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey's task this week, just as it could be the task throughout a 2019 season that will feature him playing against many of the NFL's top receivers.
Up this week: DeAndre Hopkins.
"There's a little something extra," Ramsey said of Hopkins Thursday as the Jaguars (0-1) prepared to play the Houston Texans (0-1) in an AFC South game at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Not only is Ramsey one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, Hopkins – the Texans' All-Pro receiver – is perhaps the league's best at his position. The division nature of the rivalry makes it a twice-a-season meeting that has gained in intensity and focus over the last few seasons.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," Ramsey said. "I get up for every game, to be honest with you, but he's one of the best – if not the best – in the game. If you're any type of competitor, you should try to embrace this."
Hopkins, a Pro Bowl selection three of the past four seasons, has 39 receptions for 467 yards and three touchdowns in six games against Ramsey. He caught 12 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in the Texans' season-finale victory over Jacksonville last season.
"I feel like he's a complete receiver," Ramsey said. "He's of course [Texans quarterback] Deshaun [Watson]'s favorite target, so he gets a lot of targets per game. He makes the most of his targets and he usually never drops passes, ever – even if he's guarded.
"That's probably one of the toughest things defending him. There have been times when I've had him guarded – when I've been on him like white on rice – and he still makes an amazing catch, or a spectacular catch. You see that from him all the time."
Ramsey, who also praised Watson – "I've been very complementary of Deshaun before; I've said he's going to be one of the best in the league and I stand by that" – said the Texans game is important for reasons beyond facing one of the NFL's best quarterback/receiver combinations.
The Jaguars' defense allowed the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes 481 yards and 40 points in a season-opening loss at TIAA Bank Field last week. While Ramsey emphasized throughout his weekly media availability Thursday that he didn't want to look back at Kansas City, he did say "I think everyone is an agreement that that performance is not the performance we want to put out there on the field in Week 1."
"It's a long season," he said. "What are we going to do? Have a bad attitude about it? It happened. It wasn't what we wanted, but we're going to drop it, be positive. We're excited about the opportunity on Sunday."
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash earlier Thursday said Ramsey played well against Kansas City, noting that Ramsey played well 65 of 68 plays. Ramsey said Wash and cornerbacks coach Tim Walton originally told him he had one bad play, and Ramsey said he felt the number was higher.
"I'm my own worst critic," Ramsey said. "I had a few bad plays that I wish I could do something a little different, take a shot or whatever the case may be."
Ramsey also discussed Wash saying earlier in the day that he had gotten "too cute" with the game plan, meaning he had tried too many new coverages rather than allowing the defense to play its normal schemes.
"I feel him," Ramsey said. "Me and coach Wash have had some good talks this week. I like our game plan and I like what he's going to allow me to do, let me play my game.
Also Thursday, Ramsey said he contacted Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill this week. Hill sustained a clavicle injury Sunday on a play on which he was tackled by Ramsey near the sidelines and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
"I feel bad for anybody who gets injured," Ramsey said. "Every game before the game I pray for safety and health. We go out there and in a sense try to hurt each other and gain an advantage, but we don't want anybody to have serious injuries ever.
"It kind of made me mad that people slowed down and zoomed in on what happened after the tackle. If you look at it in real time, there was no foul play in that at all. You can clearly tell what was going on. That was all that happened. There was no foul play. …
"I reached out to him. He hit me back. Everything's cool."