JACKSONVILLE – Twenty talks on Thursdays …
When Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey spoke to the media Thursday, the All-Pro cornerback's weekly media availability was decidedly brief – and not nearly as entertaining as usual.
Ramsey's words as the Jaguars (3-3) prepared to play the Houston Texans (3-3) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday were in a very real sense similar to his post-game comments following a 40-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday:
Short comments, with little elaboration on topics such as the confidence of the Jaguars' defense, Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Texans quarterback on Deshaun Watson.
Up first: the confidence of a Jaguars defense that ranks No. 2 in the NFL but that allowed 802 yards and 63 points in losses at Dallas and Kansas City the past two weeks.
"We'll see," he said.
The primary topic Thursday? Hopkins.
Hopkins, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection last season, is perhaps Ramsey's most-anticipated opponent each season. The two have played four times, with Ramsey often covering Hopkins one on one.
"It's just a good matchup," Ramsey said of Hopkins.
Hopkins never has had a 100-yard game against the Jaguars with Ramsey playing, and the duo's rivalry took hold in a Texans victory at Houston in December 2016. Although Hopkins caught eight passes for 87 yards in the game, Ramsey had five pass breakups and an interception – and also broke up a potential first-down converting pass with a leveling hit on Hopkins near the sideline.
The rivalry escalated the following offseason when Hopkins told a local radio station in the wake of cornerback A.J. Bouye leaving the Texans for Jacksonville that Bouye "better be the dude guarding me on third down instead of Jalen because he [Ramsey] couldn't get the job done.
"I love A.J. but he better be the one guarding me on third down to win the game next year for those guys. They might have a better chance."
Hopkins caught seven passes for 55 yards in a 29-7 Jaguars victory over the Texans in Week 1 last season in Houston, then caught four passes for 80 yards in a 45-7 Jaguars victory over the Texans in Week 13 in Jacksonville.
Ramsey on Thursday was asked his thoughts on facing Hopkins.
"Same as usual," he said.
Ramsey, asked to elaborate, said "same as it's always been the past two years when ya'll asked me the same question."
When one reporter said he only had been covering the Jaguars for one year, Ramsey replied: "Last year when ya'll asked me … next question."
Ramsey was then asked if Hopkins was one of the guys he liked going up against. "Yeah," he said. When asked why, he added: "It's just a good matchup."
The subject then returned to the confidence of the Jaguars' defense. The unit ranked No. 2 in the NFL last season in total yards allowed, points allowed and passing yards allowed and was ranked No. 1 in the NFL through six games. It has a reputation as one of the NFL's most confident, with the oft-talkative Ramsey a major reason for that reputation.
Ramsey was asked about a possible change in attitude this week.
"We still have confidence, but we're going to see how the game goes," he said.
The final question of the minute-and-a-half session returned to the Texans, with Ramsey being asked about second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson, a first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, has played in 12 NFL games, but his only appearance against the Jaguars came in the second half of the Jaguars' one-sided Week 1 victory last season. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown with an interception and the Jaguars sacked him four times.
He has 28 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions and has been sacked 44 times in 12 starts.
Ramsey offered this assessment of Watson when asked: "Really good."
And then Ramsey left the room.