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Lito Sheppard ready for whatever challenge he gets

New York Jets cornerback Lito Sheppard breaks up

New York Jets cornerback Lito Sheppard breaks up a pass intended for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington during the first quarter of a preseason football game. (August 24, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

All-Pro Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has attracted the lion's share of attention this week because of his second-place finish as NFL defensive player of the year and his key matchup with San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson. But Revis is just one man, and he can't shut down all of the Chargers' weapons.
 
On the opposite side of the defense, cornerback Lito Sheppard has an equally difficult matchup against wideout Malcolm Floyd, who averaged the same 17.2 yards per catch as Jackson. As inside linebacker Bart Scott said, "Lost in translation, people forget we do have Lito Sheppard, who is a two-time Pro Bowler. He's no pushover."
 
Sheppard himself can't help but feel a little neglected. "I tend to get overshadowed because we've got 'Superman,' " Sheppard said with a laugh, "but it's a challenge every week, regardless of if Revis is going to be on the No. 1 guy or not. Those guys [Sheppard covers] are starting for a reason. I don't know one team that throws the ball to one receiver. I approach it as if I'm going to get work every week."
 
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers loves the vertical game and will use Jackson and Floyd to gobble up big chunks of yardage and stretch the field for the underneath receivers to have more room to operate. It's almost frightening how many ways the Chargers can attack.
 
But Sheppard isn't worried. "This is the NFL," he said. "Every team is set up a little different, but this is not the first vertical team we've faced. Everybody has to be accountable and do their job. We're not going to get all nervous, all scared, all fumble-bumbly about them throwing the ball deep. We expect them to. That's what the receivers are out there for. We're just going to play our game plan ... We call it 'keep your eyes on your work,' and everything will take care of itself. If you're in man to man, that's where you go. Whether he throws it quick or long, be with your guy. It's about making plays."

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