Jalen Ramsey got his hands dirty Tuesday for the first time since the birth of his daughter.
Ramsey reported to Jacksonville Jaguars training camp and jumped right into the mix with the first-team defense [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-brandon-marshall-jersey]Brandon Marshall Jersey[/url] , taking part in drills, talking trash and breaking up passes.
Sweat, grass, dirt. It might have been the messiest Ramsey's hands have been since he skipped the start of camp to remain in Tennessee with his girlfriend, Bre, and newborn daughter, Breelyn. That's because the All-Pro cornerback, whose hands might be as valuable as anyone's on that side of the ball, made a deal with Bre that he wouldn't have to change diapers.
"We've been best friends since high school so we've always kind of talked about how the process would go a little bit," Ramsey said. "Of course, everything's different when it actually happens, but for the most part, we have really good agreement that I won't necessarily have to change diapers."
So what is Ramsey's part of the trade-off?
"She changes the diapers; I feed her," he said.
Ramsey became a first-time father last Wednesday, the day the Jaguars reported for camp. He missed four practices to spend extra time with his family. Coach Doug Marrone excused his absences.
"It is good when everybody is together, everyone is back in and everyone is in a good place mentally [url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jarius-wright-jersey]Jarius Wright Jersey[/url] ," Marrone said. "Just having that balance in your life, making sure everyone is good at home, making sure everyone is OK, making sure everything is set. Then you can get here and then you can focus and put your mind on what you need to do. It is always good when you can get everyone back in here, and I am glad everything worked out well."
Marrone had planned to work Ramsey in slowly, but the ultra-competitive, lock-down cornerback refused to stay on the sideline during his first day back. The Jaguars had to like what they saw, even though they've seen similar from him for two years now.
Ramsey played in every game in two seasons and emerged as one of the league's top defenders.
He expects to be even better in Year 3.
"We're going to see when the season starts, right?" he said. "We're going to see. And y'all will see. Y'all will see. I never give myself like goals. I guess you could say like, 'Oh, I'm going to have this many interceptions; I'm going to have this many" pass breakups.
"But what I can tell you, though, that I will do is I'll make sure I prepare myself and I'm ready to go out there and give it my all so I'm not letting anybody down, my teammates, coaches, my family [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-brandon-mcmanus-jersey]Brandon McManus Jersey[/url] , y'all, fans. I can tell you that much."
He gets one of his toughest tests in the team's season opener at the New York Giants and against three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
"Let's get this out the way right now: He's a good receiver. We all know that," said Ramsey, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. "But y'all know me at the same time. Yeah, he's good. But I'm good, too. If y'all want to say he's the best at his position; I'm the best at my position, so we're going to go at it. We're going to give the people a show the first game of the season.
"He's going to have some wins; I'm going to have some wins. I just plan on having more wins."
Ramsey is the outspoken face of Jacksonville's vaunted defense, a unit that was among the best in the league in 2017. The Jaguars return 10 starters on that side of the ball, including all four in the secondary, and expect to be even more dynamic in their second season together.
"At the end of the day, win games," he said. "If we can win games on the defensive side of the ball. We can always ask for more: More turnovers, more touchdowns, more opportunities giving the ball back to the offense. Just more of everything."
"It feels good" to be back, Ramsey said. "Miss my little girl already, but it feels good. It was cool. It was good. Long few days [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-t.y.-hilton-jersey]T.Y. Hilton Jersey[/url] , but everything that I could have dreamed of."
Sidney Crosby has faced the Washington Capitals three times in the playoffs. All three times the Pittsburgh captain has led his team to victory. And all three times the Penguins used the win as the springboard to a raucous mid-June parade with the Stanley Cup in tow.
Still, Crosby sounded like a cautious investor on Tuesday when asked if Pittsburgh has a mental advantage over rival Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals heading into yet another postseason showdown in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting later this week.
Past performance, the two-time MVP stressed, does not guarantee future results.
”I think it depends on what you do in the series and how you play,” Crosby said. ”I don’t think it plays a huge role. I guess to answer your question, no.”
A mantra Crosby’s teammates repeated over and over they prepared for yet another showdown in a rivalry that somehow manages to be both compelling and one-sided. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in the postseason against Washington regardless of who is in the black-and-gold sweaters and who is in red, white and blue.
Not that Ovechkin is intimidated. The Capitals star said he “can’t wait” to get another shot at the Penguins after spearheading Washington’s first-round win over Columbus in six games. That’s fine by Pittsburgh, which has played Lucy to Washington’s Charlie Brown for more than a quarter century, dangling a potentially deep playoff run in front of the Capitals only to pull it back at the last minute.
The Penguins, however, remain wary. Just because they always beat Washington doesn’t mean they’re going to always beat Washington. The teams split their four meetings during the regular season, with the Capitals wrapping up their third straight Metropolitan Division title with a 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on April Fool’s Day.
Of course, none of it matters once the puck drops in Game 1.
”It’s a new year,” Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said. ”The series is going to play out differently. The game is going to be won differently. You don’t know how it is going to go. The only thing I know is it’s a good rivalry, two really good teams, two teams that have a lot of punch offensively. It’s going to be fun to be a part of.”
Particularly for Letang. He missed all of Pittsburgh’s run to a second straight Stanley Cup last spring while recovering from neck surgery [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-dennis-smith-jersey]Dennis Smith Jersey[/url] , though he was able to make his way to the arena for Game 7 of the conference semifinals, when Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced and the Penguins escaped with a 2-0 victory to finish a series in which both teams scored 20 goals and won on opposing ice at least twice.
Though there are a handful of new faces on both sides, the principals remain the same. Ovechkin and Crosby. Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Letang and Braden Holtby. Two weeks of taut, tense hockey in the offing.
”I think it’s the same old dangerous team,” Letang said. ”Like, don’t get me wrong, those series went the distance, they went to overtime. It was a tough matchup that could have gone either way. They cause the same problems to our team. They cause problems on the power play. They have a lot of skill. They make a lot of plays.”
Yet the Penguins have always found a way to make at least one more, though they may be at less than 100 percent when things get going. Malkin and forward Carl Hagelin both missed practice on Tuesday. Malkin is dealing with a lower-body injury while Hagelin has an upper-body issue after colliding with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux in Pittsburgh’s clinching victory over the Flyers in Game 6.
That could provide more playing time for players like Riley Sheahan – who filled in capably on the second line for Malkin in Game 6 – and rookie Zach Aston-Reese. The 23-year-old was in high school the first time Crosby and Ovechkin met in the playoffs in 2009 – when the Penguins blitzed the Capitals in Game 7 of the conference semifinals on their way to the Cup.
This time, Aston-Reese’s view will be markedly different. He noticed an uptick in intensity from the regular season when the Penguins fended off the Flyers. Now, the dial goes up to 11 and stays there.
”I expect every game to be almost like a Game 7,” Aston-Reese said.
That’s because it almost always is.
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