View from the O-Zone: “That’s what leaders do”

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Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Thursday, Dec. 06, 2018 in Nashville,TN. (Aaron Doster via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Jalen Ramsey talked Thursday.

That’s not unusual. The Jaguars’ All-Pro cornerback has talked to the media pretty much every Thursday during the 2018 regular season. What was notable on this Thursday is this:

His growth and development are continuing.

This has been clear in recent weeks, and Ramsey on Thursday discussed why he was playing hard – and yes, being demonstrative – during a goal-line stand late in a one-sided loss to the Tennessee Titans a week ago.

“A lot of people kind of joked on me and got mad at me for celebrating during the goal-line stand,” Ramsey said as the Jaguars (4-9) prepared to play the Washington Redskins (6-7) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.

“I don’t care. People said something to me and [linebacker] Telvin [Smith] … just because we’re losing by a big amount does that mean we’re supposed to stop playing with passion? Does that mean we’re supposed to stop playing with a lot of heart? Does that mean we’re supposed to go sit on the bench and be sad, or are we going to keep playing. As long as I’m on the field, I’m going to try to give it my all.

“That’s what we did out there. I think that’s what leaders do.”

Ramsey talked more Thursday about leadership, and he talked about multiple topics during a 10-minute meeting with the media. Mostly, he showed what he has increasingly shown during the last month – that he has changed since a November loss at Indianapolis that was perhaps the worst game of Ramsey’s three-year NFL career.

“Adversity, they say, makes or breaks you,” Smith said Thursday. “In any situation, it reveals you to you. I think in situations like that … he became him. You’re going to see him continue to evolve in this league and continue to get better, continue to become more of a leader and continue to push and go.”

Ramsey’s growth since the Indianapolis loss has been seen on the field.

Amid reports that officials from other teams believed the Jaguars would consider trading him in the offseason, Ramsey a week after the Indianapolis loss had his most spectacular career game; his two-interception performance that day was perhaps as impressive as any defensive performance in franchise history. Ramsey two weeks later played against the Colts despite a knee injury that kept him out of practice that week, holding wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to eight receptions for 77 yards.

Ramsey off the field has been different, too.

Whereas many of his weekly media availabilities throughout the first half of the season were peppered with one- and two-word responses and obvious disdain for questioners, he has been far more introspective and patient in the situation in recent weeks.

Much of Ramsey’s media availability Thursday centered on an exchange between him and defensive coordinator Todd Wash late in the Titans loss. Titans. The exchange was captured on a jaguars.com “MicDD Up” segment, with Wash telling Ramsey, “This is going to be your team for a long time, so however you want it, that’s the way you’ve got to act.”

Ramsey said Wash said he appreciated him playing hard throughout the game, and Ramsey said the conversation began with Ramsey talking trying to handle the Jaguars’ struggles this season.

“Like I told him, ‘This year has been pretty tough’ …. trying to cope with losing,’’ Ramsey said. “People always say this guy or that guy – or me personally – he doesn’t take losing well … or he has a bad attitude …

“I’m never going to take losing well, honestly. When you start to take losing well, that’s a guy you don’t want.”

Ramsey said a lot more Thursday, correctly saying he believes he should make the Pro Bowl this season and also saying he has played as well as last season in some areas and perhaps not as well in others. One quote likely to make headlines came when discussing what Wash said about the Jaguars being Ramsey’s team “for a long time.” Ramsey said in light of last month’s trade rumors, he “truly” doesn’t know what his future holds.

“I’m going to let the front office handle that, and my agent handle that,” he said. “If I am here for a while, I’m going to continue to bring my heart and my passion to this team, to this city and do as best I can for this to be my team for a long time.

“I’m going to let my agent and the front office handle that, but after what came out five weeks ago I’m feeling like if y’all are serious about that not being real y’all need to make it happen. If not, maybe what came out five weeks ago … we’ll see. I’m going to keep enjoying every day.”

That will be the takeaway for some from what Ramsey said Thursday.

The bigger takeaway is that Ramsey handled the situation professionally and as adeptly as possible, and that made Thursday notable. His growth and development continue.

And that’s a good sign for him and this organization.

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