View from the O-Zone: 'He's the face'

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JACKSONVILLE – Twenty talked on Friday.

Or, as Jalen Ramsey might say, "Two point oh" was at the podium.

And because Ramsey – the second-year All-Pro cornerback who is fast becoming one of the NFL's most entertaining players and biggest stars – was talking about the AFC Championship Game, he naturally was asked how he and his teammates were handling things while preparing for the biggest game of the season and biggest game of many of their lives.

"We chillin', man," Ramsey said as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (12-6) prepared to play the AFC East Champion New England Patriots (14-3) in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

"We cool. Same as it has been all year, you know what I'm saying? Everybody is focused, but at the same time, everybody is having fun. It's cool."

Now, make no mistake:

This quote from his pre-AFC Championship Game press conference on Friday wasn't exactly the Top Jalen Ramsey Quote for the 2017 season, and it wasn't close. The No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft has been more outlandish this season, with far better soundbites.

Still, the quote matters for a couple of reasons:

One is the growing sense that the buildup for a big Jaguars game isn't quite complete – nor can the game truly begin – until Ramsey speaks. He is the team's soul, and he has become its unofficial voice. As cornerback A.J. Bouye put it Thursday, he takes what this team believes – the internal fuming over the slights and insults, the feeling that they're out to prove many things to many doubters – and puts it eloquently, entertainingly and memorably into words.

As Bouye said Thursday, "I told Jalen, 'You say what we want to say.'''

"He's the face," Bouye said.

Ramsey on Friday unsurprisingly said he had no problem with that: "Why not, man? I say what the team is thinking, but might not want to say. Why not say it?

Ramsey was asked if that was good because he can back up what he says.

"Possibly," Ramsey said. "I think other guys on the team could probably do the same. They can back it up, but that's just not who they are.

"That's not their personality, but, you know, this is two point oh."

So, yes …

When 2.0 (Ramsey's number is 20) talks, it's worth listening. And Friday was no different. Asked early in the press conference about covering Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, he echoed what Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Thursday – that being a cornerback, he was not thinking about covering any tight end.

He also was asked why he might be a good matchup against "Gronk" should the situation arise.

"He hasn't played a corner like me before," Ramsey said.

He was then asked if the reason for that might be his length, or his size.

"Everything," was his answer.

Ramsey also dismissed the importance of reports this week about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's hand being injured.

"Come on, y'all know that's …" he said. "Come on, that's not … He's going to get out there. He's gonna play. He's gonna play to the best of his ability and do what he does."

A major topic as expected was Ramsey's comment to fans at EverBank Field Sunday after Jaguars returned home from a 45-42 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Divisional Playoff. Ramsey that night told a celebrating crowd of about 10,000 the Jaguars were going to the Super Bowl and that they were "going to win …"

He was asked if too much had been made of the comment.

"That's what y'all [the media] do, man," he said. "Y'all blow it up. It is what it is. I don't really care."

And while Ramsey said he noticed a couple of Patriots comments regarding his comment, he wasn't overly concerned.

"I know for a minute they were trying to gas me up," he said. "They were trying to gas us up a little bit.  You can't really gas somebody up who is already gassed. That's what I do, so that didn't really matter to me. And then that one kid (Patriots player) who said something … I mean I don't really know who he is, so it is what it is."

Ramsey spoke for a little over four minutes Friday – more than enough time for him to entertain and inform. It also was enough time for what is now an obligatory question about respect and just what this team must do to earn it. He smiled at the question.

"At this point, if we don't got respect, that might be a lost cause," he said. "We just might not get none.  We're one of the final four teams in the NFL playing right now. So if we ain't got no respect then, get it."

And with that, two point oh was gone. The stage had been set.

The AFC Championship Game can begin.

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