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Antonio Cromartie says he's having 'fun' in new scheme

New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie (31)

New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie (31) responds to questions during a news conference after practice at training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

Antonio Cromartie knows the Jets' defense is built around the front seven. It's a signature of a Todd Bowles-coached team, said the cornerback, who played for Bowles last year with the Arizona Cardinals.

The focus is different from when Cromartie played for Rex Ryan's Jets from 2010-13. He said Ryan's defense featured two-gap schemes. Now, the defense allows for more pressure on the quarterback and uses speed to counter the runs.

"It's fun -- actually, it should be more fun for the front seven than it is for the secondary because we're going to be in a lot of cover one," Cromartie playfully said Tuesday at Jets training camp.

Cromartie is getting ready for it all by covering receiver Brandon Marshall, and is relishing the opportunity.

Marshall, a nine-year NFL veteran and five-time Pro Bowler, was traded to the Jets from the Bears in March. Cromartie said playing with such a proven player makes him better.

It's even led to a playful rivalry during matchups: Marshall was seen tugging on Cromartie's jersey after the offense got the better of him on a play at camp.

"I think that was the only catch I gave up to him the entire day, so it was just like, 'All right, he got me on this one,' " Cromartie said. "We're having fun.

"Just going against a Pro Bowl receiver, he's come out to work every single day. And when you've got a receiver that's coming to work every single day, it's going to make Sundays a lot easier."

Cromartie added that Chris Owusu and Eric Decker have also set examples with their skill and intensity.

Bowles said Cromartie, too, is a leader. He joked that Cromartie talks a lot, but touted his work ethic and preparation. Asked about a 2011 book that alleged the former Jets coaching staff was unhappy with Cromartie's coverage, Bowles said he didn't read the book.

"The way he studies film during the season and game week, come Monday, he's already got a jump on the opponent," Bowles said. "Because I didn't know the person, I didn't know how professional he was and the way he carries himself, I thought that was outstanding. I didn't know that about him."

Said Cromartie: "I think we've got the utmost confidence in ourselves on the back end to go out and play football the best way we know how."


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