All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey did pretty much the same thing that upset his Jacksonville Jaguars teammates last week.
He started looking ahead.
Ramsey told thousands of fans awaiting the team’s return from Pittsburgh late Sunday that the Jaguars ”are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).”
Jacksonville (12-6) Taven Bryan Color Rush Jersey , of course, has the AFC championship game at New England remaining before even getting to the Super Bowl. The small-market franchise is winless in seven games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and 1-10 all-time against the Patriots (14-3).
Ramsey’s comments surely will find their way north.
”You come back and you’ve got all the fans here and things of that nature,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.
”Obviously that’s something that everybody, they want to do when you get close. Whether you have to say it or not? The one thing I do know is the road to it always leads through New England.
”Our focus isn’t on anything else but the New England Patriots. It will be a great challenge for us obviously.”
The Jags took exception to the Steelers talking about facing the Patriots instead of them, and used it as motivation in a 45-42 victory Sunday.
Nonetheless, they stood behind their outspoken and ultra-talented defender.
”To me, it’s just a man that has confidence in his team,” defensive tackle Abry Jones said. ”What’s he going to say? He knows what we’re going up there to do. It’s not like he ain’t saying nothing that’s not true.”
Fellow defensive tackle Malik Jackson said the difference between Ramsey’s remarks and comments from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, running back Le’Veon Bell and safety Mike Mitchell is the timing.
”We’re so close that I think it’s OK to say, `Hey, we’re going to do this,”’ Jackson said. ”It’s one of those things that I think he believes in himself after the game he just had, locking down one of the best receivers in the game.
”He’s pretty hyped and he wants to let everybody know he’s hyped, so I think he’s just happy and he understands that we have a giant in front of us and we’ve just got to pay all the attention to this team.
”We don’t even know who’s going to play in the Super Bowl because we’re not looking ahead to that.”
Ramsey was unavailable during the team’s open locker room session Monday.
”He’s going to talk Minkah Fitzpatrick Color Rush Jersey , but we’re going to show up,” defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said. ”I just don’t like when people talk all week. You talk reckless and you lose.”
The Jaguars voiced their displeasure with being overlooked by the Steelers last week and were really vocal after the victory at Heinz Field. Players yelled, ”Where’s Mike Mitchell at now” as they came off the field.
”I feel like they took us lightly. I don’t know why because we whooped them the first time,” Ngakoue said. ”You’ve got to respect all your opponents. That’s why we’re not big in trash-talking. We’re big in playing on Sunday.
”Real guys, real people don’t talk. We throw the first punch. We threw the first punch and we got the victory.”
And now they have a matchup against the NFL’s most successful franchise over the past two decades.
The Jaguars are 1-3 against New England in the postseason, with the lone victory coming after the 1998 season – before coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady teamed up to take five Super Bowl titles.
Jacksonville’s win came against coach Pete Carroll and backup quarterback Scott Zolak.
The Jags are 0-7 against the Brady-Belichick combination.
”We’re not going to go out there like the Steelers the week before and talk about people in a bad way and give them bulletin board news,” Jackson said.
”We just continue to work and earn respect. … We just keep proving people wrong. (Blake Bortles) keeps proving people wrong, and we just keep going on it and pounding people. It’s just awesome to see and awesome to be a part of.
”We understand we have to do what we have to do or we’ll be watching the Super Bowl at home like everybody else.”
With perhaps the most frustrating road trip of their season in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota Twins return home Thursday looking to get back on track in the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.
Minnesota went 1-8 on their I-94 excursion that began by dropping two of three to the Chicago White Sox and ended with sweeps by the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. As a result, the Twins now sit 13 games under .500 and 12 games behind American League Central-leading Cleveland, holding down third place in the division.
“I think we’re all frustrated,” manager Paul Molitor said after the Brewers hit three solo home runs in a 3-2 victory over the Twins at Miller Park on Wednesday. “You win one game and you’re on the road for 10 days, playing good teams.
“We’re creating some of our own problems. At the same time, we’re not catching a lot of breaks. We’ll get home, looking forward to that. Have a nice homestand before the break. We’ll try to get these guys ready for a series with Baltimore tomorrow.”
The Twins will turn to Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) for his first start of the season in the hopes of turning things around.
He has made just one other major league appearance this season Mike Hughes Color Rush Jersey , allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings of relief May 30 at Kansas City. He has a 5.66 ERA in five career outings, including three starts, in the big leagues overall. Slegers has never faced Baltimore.
Like the Twins, the Orioles come into the series looking to snap out of a slump. They have lost nine of their last 10 games, including two in a row to Philadelphia this week.
Manager Buck Showalter still has confidence his team can turn things around.
“There are some really good people in that locker room and I’d really like to see them get a return, but you can’t will it. You can’t just hope it,” said Showalter. “It’s got to be one pitch at a time. You can’t look at the big picture.”
Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48) gets the start for Baltimore on Thursday, and he is looking for his first victory since May 21. He has a 3.21 ERA over his last five outings, four of which were quality starts.
Keeping the ball in the park has been a big reason for that recent run of success. Cashner had allowed 11 home runs through his first nine starts but only three over his last seven — and none his last time out when he held the Los Angeles Angels to a run on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over six innings of work.
“That’s what I try to do every time I take the mound, just keep the team in the game and grind it out, no matter if it’s pretty or ugly,” Cashner told the Baltimore Sun. “Just try to get through the seventh. Maybe next time I’ll get through the seventh. I thought I got stronger as I went along. The breaking stuff was better, the offspeed was better. Something to build on as we go and keep moving forward.”
Cashner will be making his first career start at Target Field but is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Twins, who tagged him for five runs (four earned) over five innings on March 31 in Baltimore.
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