Antonio Cromartie seemed more like a guppy than a human being for a good portion of Sunday.
"After the game, I felt like a fish out of water," the cornerback said this afternoon. "I really couldn’t breathe. But right now, I’m feeling good. I feel 100 percent. I have a little soreness here and there, but that’s about it."
Cromartie, who's nursing a bruised lung and bruised ribs, practiced for the first time this week today. He was a full participant, even returning a few punts during the 30-minute portion of practice that's open to the media.
That's why he's confident he'll play Sunday when the Jets travel to Baltimore to square off against the Ravens in prime time.
"Very," Cromartie said. "I went out today and did some stuff today. So I mean, I felt good running around, didn’t give me a problem catching the ball or anything else. I guess we’ll really find out how good I feel once I make the first tackle."
Cromartie, who probably won't be returning kickoffs Sunday, plans on wearing some light protection, though he didn't specify what it was. He said he practiced with the new gear today and it didn't give him any problems.
He's looking for a bounce-back effort following a tough game in which he was hit with two pass interference calls, and a pair of defensive holding violations. Oh yeah, he also muffed a punt, helping the Raiders take a 14-point lead and the Jets never recovered.
"Yeah, my whole thing was I just wanted to make sure I stayed aggressive," Cromartie said. "On some of the calls, I felt like some shouldn’t have been called penalties. One of them, we got our feet tangled up and the other one, I was just trying to play for the ball. If you want to have a true penalty, there was probably only one true penalty and that’s when I got a slant and go from Darrius Heyward-Bey on their sideline.
"Other than that, my biggest thing was to make sure I stayed aggressive and keep playing my game. My game is not going to change from someone calling penalties, maybe that shouldn’t have been called."
So why is Cromartie, who's been flagged 12 times in his one-plus seasons with the Jets, seemingly constantly getting penalized?
"I just think, if you look at it, I’m bigger than most of the receivers that we face," the 6-2, 210-pound Cromartie said. "So when I’m jamming, most of the time, my hands are higher than what a smaller DB is. So my hands are up around the face or maybe they’re around the throat. So my main thing is I’ve got to try to make sure my target is a little lower."
That will surely be the case this week if Cromartie is covering rookie Torrey Smith, all 6-foot, 205 pounds of him. Cromartie certainly didn't seem all that impressed with Smith.
"He had one big game. That’s it," Cromartie said. "He has five catches for his whole three-game career. That’s it. So that’s nothing on him."
What about a potential matchup with Anquan Boldin, whom Darrelle Revis called the toughest wide receiver in the NFL?
"Honestly, I don’t care who I play, to be honest with you," Cromartie said. "My job is to shut down that receiver. So whoever I face against they are going to have a hard day."