Jalen Ramsey says Rams must have everything covered against Tom Brady, Buccaneers
Jalen Ramsey has faced Tom Brady only once in the postseason, and it was a game Ramsey chose to put out of his mind.
In the 2017 playoffs, Brady led the New England Patriots to victory over Ramsey’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium.
“That game was disappointing, so I just tried to forget about it as much as I could,” Ramsey, the Rams star cornerback, said Thursday during a video conference with reporters.
Ramsey and Brady have changed teams since that playoff matchup.
On Sunday, Ramsey gets another postseason shot at neutralizing the most successful quarterback in NFL history when the Rams play Brady and the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC divisional-round game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
“I’m sure he’s going to bring it,” Ramsey said of Brady. “I’m sure his team’s going to be ready.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford earned his first postseason victory last week against Arizona, but big tests such as this week’s playoff game at Tampa Bay is reason he was acquired.
“He’s a great leader, the way he’s able to get his team to rally around him, the way he’s able to get his team to all believe that they’re great and able to make all the plays possible. I’m sure we’ll get their best effort.”
Ramsey has been part of two Rams victories over the Buccaneers and Brady.
In 2020, in a 27-24 victory at Tampa, the Rams intercepted two passes. On Sept. 26, Brady completed 41 of 55 passes for 432 yards and a touchdown in a 34-24 defeat at SoFi Stadium.
But this is the playoffs. Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, is 35-11 in playoff games, including a 31-15 wild-card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
A pass rush led by Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller will be important for the Rams on Sunday, but so will Ramsey, who has lined up as an outside cornerback, inside cornerback, linebacker and edge rusher.
“Jalen Ramsey’s one of the great corners in the league,” Brady told reporters in Tampa this week. “Between the guys that they have in the secondary as well as the front, you have no place that you can take off.”
Ramsey, 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, is expected to match up at times with Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans. He also could be involved in covering tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.
“It’s just covering different body types,” Ramsey said, adding, “It’s a little bit different of a feel, I guess you would say, that’s probably it. ... Film study has to be elite this week to make sure that I know exactly kind of what route concepts I’ll get with other guys and how I should play it, and how I should be on the same page with my safeties and the rest of the secondary.
“You know how I feel about challenges: I welcome them, and I’m excited for that challenge however many times that may or may not happen.”
Ramsey intercepted four passes this season, tying his career best. He was voted All-Pro for the third time in six NFL seasons, but he aims higher, seeking recognition at two positions.
The Rams defeated Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 26 but are left with a short week to prepare for an NFL playoff rematch on Sunday.
From 2016 to 2018 the All-Pro team included two cornerbacks, a flex defensive back and two safeties. But it has since returned to including only two cornerbacks and two safeties.
Ramsey has said he would like to be recognized as an outside cornerback and inside cornerback.
“He says those things for a reason — because he takes big-time pride in what he does and how he does it,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said Thursday.
On Sunday, Ramsey will be the key player in a secondary that includes cornerbacks Darious Williams, Donte Deayon and David Long Jr., and safeties Nick Scott, Terrell Burgess and Eric Weddle.
Weddle came out of retirement and played 19 of 56 defensive snaps in the Rams’ 34-11 wild-card victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
The Rams have beaten Tom Brady and the Buccaneers the last two times they met in the regular season, but can L.A. do it on a playoff stage in Tampa?
“His energy was through the roof,” Ramsey said. “He was super excited at certain times. I thought he needed to calm down before he made himself catch a cramp or something. ... It was fun having him out there.
“The communication was great.”
Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (ankle/knee) and safety Taylor Rapp (concussion) did not practice. Linebacker Troy Reeder (ankle), receiver Ben Skowronek (back) and kick returner Brandon Powell (ribs) were limited. ... Linebacker Ernest Jones, who had been on injured reserve because of an ankle injury, practiced. ... Morris, who is scheduled to interview with the Minnesota Vikings, said he would not have a problem remaining focused on preparing for the Buccaneers. “It’s pretty simple for me when it comes to compartmentalizing what I got to get done this week,” he said. “My number one job right now is to do everything I can to help the Rams go be victorious this week versus a very good opponent. That is my singular focus.”... Offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell was scheduled to be interviewed by the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans. He acknowledged “the necessity to have a great feel for whatever team that I may be talking to about their roster, about their team. That’s really important. But I think they would understand that my focus needs to be on the Rams first.”
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