Atlanta will host the Jets in the prime-time Week 5 matchup, and after watching film of Cromartie single-cover Calvin Johnson in the preseason, Jones said he's prepared for some man-to-man battles with the veteran cornerback. According to ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, Jones is ready for Cromartie to follow him around the field:
"He’s a very athletic, long, rangy corner," Jones said. "And he’s got great speed. ... But when you’ve got two great receivers on one team, it’s not telling who they’re going to match: me or Roddy."
Jones is of course referring to his teammate Roddy White, who poses a second serious threat in Atlanta's offense. It's a situation that New York will have to attack carefully.
Jones, 6'3" and 220 pounds, has size and speed, but so does the 6'2", 210-pound Cromartie. In years past, Cromartie and his former Jets teammate Darrelle Revis could split the responsibilities of covering two top-flight wideouts like Jones and White. But with Revis gone to Tampa Bay, New York coach Rex Ryan even admitted it will be tough to contain Jones, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
Rex on Julio Jones: "That might be a problem." #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) October 2, 2013
Whether he's matched up against Jones or White, Cromartie sounds like he knows how he's going to approach Monday's contest, per McClure.
It’s trying to be as physical as possible. I think the bigger receivers, you want to take them out (the game) so you want to be as physical as possible. You try to take them out [of] the game early. You have to understand that there will be catches that will be made here and there. If you’re not letting up big plays, you’re doing your job.
Through four games this season, Jones has made Falcons fans and fantasy owners happy by hauling in 33 catches for 481 yards and two touchdowns. In the process, he's supplanted White, who has dealt with ankle issues all year, as quarterback Matt Ryan's favorite target. It's worth noting that White has admitted he's not quite yet at 100 percent.
But White is still a threat, and there's only one Cromartie, meaning another cornerback will be tasked with slowing down one of Atlanta's elite receivers. ESPN.com's Jane McManus reports that No. 2 cornerback Dee Milliner is out with a hamstring injury, meaning third-year man Darrin Walls will likely step up into a starting role for the second straight week.
After last week's 38-13 loss in Tennessee, Walls told Mack Burke of the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he "didn't get the job done," so if he doesn't step it up it could be a long day for the Jets defense.