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Antonio Cromartie’s Next Challenge: A.J. Green

Posted Oct 24, 2013

It seemed as if QB Tom Brady was trying to make up for lost time by throwing 17 passes in the direction of TE Rob Gronkowski on Sunday, but the 6’6” tight end’s dynamic playmaking ability was just one of the reasons Brady continued to target him.

The other reason? CB Antonio Cromartie had his section of the field on lockdown.

“He played an outstanding game,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Cro’s most recent performance. “He had an outstanding game, used his hands at the line of scrimmage more. Eighty-five [Kenbrell Thompkins] is a decent receiver they have there and I think Cro did an excellent job on him.”

But as Cromartie said today, “Last week is last week. It’s a new week now.”

And with this new week, our No. 1 corner’s assignment shifts from, in Rex’s words, “a decent receiver” in Thompkins to “probably the best receiver in the AFC” in A.J. Green.

Since entering the league as the fourth overall selection of the 2011 draft, Green has compiled 205 receptions for 23 touchdowns and 3,026 yards, ranked seventh, fifth and sixth in the NFL respectively.

“What does the kid not have?” Ryan said this week of the 6’4”, 207-pound receiver. “He has size, speed, athleticism, route-running, great catching radius.”

“It’s a tough task,” Cromartie told reporters after today’s practice. “He’s a great receiver for that team and he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL right now.”

While Rex and Antonio were full of praise for A.J., the Cincinnati wideout told the New York media during Wednesday's conference call that the 1-on-1 matchup will present challenges for both sides.

“He’s a long corner,” Green said of Cromartie. “He’s a veteran corner. He’s been around the league a long time, so I’m going to have to work him.

“Corners are going to get beat here and there,” he added, “but I think he’s one of the best in the league.”

Sunday will be a chance for our two-time Pro Bowl corner to prove that he’s “one of the best in the league,” as it will be up to Cro and Co. to stop QB Andy Dalton from hooking up with his No. 1 option.

Accomplishing that goal begins with physicality at the line of scrimmage, Cromartie said, which “just knocks off a lot of timing with a quarterback and puts me in a better position also. That’s something I try to look forward to and do my best of being that aggressive type of cornerback that I know I can be.”

Of course, the Green & White’s shutting down the Orange & Black's Green does not guarantee success. Second-year receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones are emerging as capable complements to A.J., veteran RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and TE Jermaine Gresham are as reliable as they come, and rookie RB Giovani Bernard and TE Tyler Eifert were the team’s top two selections in this year’s draft.

So while Antonio Cromartie will be keying in on the man who “can make all the catches and make the difficult catches look easy,” it will truly take a team effort by all of the Jets to fly into Cincinnati this weekend and tame the tigers.
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