FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Antonio Cromartie is used to the attention.
The New York Jets cornerback has gone up against some of the best wide receivers in the NFL during his four-plus seasons, so his next big assignment doesn’t faze him.
“I’m just going out and knowing what to expect of myself,” Cromartie said, “and what my teammates expect out of me, also.”
Well, the Jets are expecting big things from him Sunday night, especially with Darrelle Revis out for New York’s game at Miami with a strained left hamstring. Cromartie will have the task of being primarily responsible for trying to shut down Brandon Marshall.
“It’s tough from a physical standpoint,” Cromartie said. “He’s a big receiver that can get in and out of his routes real well as a smart receiver. You just have to be patient and play disciplined.”
It’s a matchup that even Jets coach Rex Ryan is looking forward to seeing.
“Two great athletes going against each other, two huge guys for their positions,” Ryan said. “I mean they are giants for their positions.”
At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Marshall is a huge target for Chad Henne. He has 12 catches for 124 yards in his first two games with the Dolphins, but hasn’t gotten into the end zone. The Jets hope the 6-2, 210-pound Cromartie can keep it that way.
“I think he’s a rare blend of size, but then he also has the ability to make you miss with the run after the catch,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said of Marshall. “To me, he’s the total package at wideout. He’s a guy that has smaller-receiver agility, yet it’s a bigger, more physical receiver’s body.”
Not having Revis, a guy Ryan said is the best cornerback he has ever coached, in the lineup against Marshall might cause some teams to panic. Not the Jets. While Cromartie is not Revis, he still shut down New England’s Randy Moss in the second half after Revis was sidelined Sunday.
“He knew right away that Darrelle was going to be down and that all of a sudden everybody’s looking at him and saying, ‘Hey, you’re the No. 1 guy,”‘ Pettine said. “I think he’s not a guy who’s going to hide from that opportunity. He relishes in it. Looking at the way he practiced, I can tell he can’t wait until Sunday.”
That’s because Cromartie was all over the field Thursday, picking off passes left and right.
“Antonio Cromartie broke the all-time Florham Park record,” Ryan said. “I think he had 10 interceptions out there (Thursday). It was crazy.”
So, how many did he really have?
“I don’t know,” Cromartie said with a sheepish grin.
He must have kept count, though, right?
“No, really, I didn’t,” he said, still smiling. “My thing was just to go out, be as focused as I can be and just sort of lock in. I’ve been watching film and trying to pick up on little things. I’m just trying to help out the best way I can.”
With Revis out, the plan is for rookie Kyle Wilson to start in his place, and have Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery also rotate in. But it should be mostly Cromartie vs. Marshall.
“I don’t feel more responsibility,” Cromartie said. “I think, the secondary as a whole, we just take on more responsibility and try to go out and prepare the way we need to prepare and have another game like we did in the second half (against the Patriots).”
Cromartie also is plenty familiar with Marshall from when they both played in the AFC West. Marshall had one of his biggest games against the Chargers, when he caught 18 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in 2008. Cromartie defended Marshall on only about a dozen plays, but also got penalized four times that day.
“He killed our secondary, but on the times that I actually covered him, he only had four catches,” he said. “That’s his biggest game against me. So I don’t pay attention or care what somebody says about 18 catches.”
Cromartie has an interception in each of his first two games, and has shown signs of returning to the form that made him an All-Pro in 2007.
“This is a different type of defense than we played in San Diego,” said Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, a former Chargers teammate. “San Diego is a little more soft in coverage. We are a little bit more aggressive here. He likes to be aggressive, so if they want to throw toward him, I expect him to get one or two picks and have a really good day.”
NOTES: Ryan said he has an idea of how much and when WR Braylon Edwards will play, but won’t make a final decision until before kickoff. Edwards was arraigned on drunken-driving charges Tuesday. Ryan has said Edwards will play but won’t start. … With backup OL Wayne Hunter out with a badly bruised right shin, Ryan said rookie Vladimir Ducasse will be the team’s backup OT and TE. Ducasse, the team’s second-round pick, has not been active after losing the competition for the job at LG to Matt Slauson.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)