Eli Manning has done his homework since last he spoke about Jalen Ramsey… and made headlines for doing so.
“He’s a big guy, he’s physical,” Manning said of the Jaguars’ All-Pro cornerback on Wednesday. “He’s got good size, good range, good ball skills. He likes to be pressed up and does a good job playing tight coverage.”
That’s a far departure from Manning’s dismissive “Who?” when asked about Ramsey’s inflammatory scouting report on Manning (and just about every other quarterback in the NFL) that appeared in a magazine article earlier this summer. In those comments, Ramsey dissed Manning’s success as being more a product of his primary target than his own skills.
“It’s not really Eli,” Ramsey said. “I think it’s Odell. I won’t say Eli’s good, I’ll say Odell’s good. And their connection is good.”
Well, on Sunday, Ramsey will get a chance to see just how good they are together.
When the Giants play the Jaguars in the opener at MetLife Stadium, it will be the first game action the quarterback and receiver will have together since last October, when Beckham broke his ankle. They’ve practiced, they’ve gone against the Lions in joint practices, and they’ve warmed up together before games. But Sunday will be the return of the combination that has produced more touchdown passes (38) than any other in Manning’s career.
Beckham said he is excited for it, not only because of the return to action but also because of who it is against. What better way to come back than against a cornerback he described as among the best in the NFL?
“This is, if not the best, then one of the best corners, there’s no way around it,” Beckham said, saying Ramsey and the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson are 1A and 1B in his mind. “It’s definitely going to be a good matchup.”
Beckham said he spent time this offseason with Ramsey. They weren’t playing football against each other, but they were talking about having each other on the upcoming schedule.
“I was joking with him, ‘When we play you, what happens if I run this route?’ " Beckham said. "And the next thing I know the schedule is out and we play them in the first game.”
There’s a fairly good chance that the Beckham-Ramsey meeting won’t be an every-down situation. The Jaguars typically keep Ramsey on one side of their defense.
“He’s done it sometimes, he’s matched and followed guys, and sometimes he hasn’t,” Manning said. “I guess you don’t know.”
Not that it matters.
“He’s normally on the right side,” Manning said. “Obviously, if he starts traveling it’s still not gonna change what we’re doing.”
It will, however, affect what promises to be one of the top matchups between individual players on opening weekend in the NFL.
"It's gonna be an epic showdown,” Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said, looking forward to watching it from the sideline. “Two great talents, two of the best at their position. It's a dream-made matchup.”
“There’s going to be times in the game where they’re up against one another,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said, “and that will be a fun thing for people to keep track of.”
Including Beckham, who noted that what he and Ramsey learned the most about each other in the offseason is that both are ultra-competitive players.
“It won’t be as friendly as it was during the offseason,” Beckham said, “I know that for sure.”