Replacing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is no easy task, but Antonio Cromartie is ready to take on the challenge. This situation isn't new for the 8 went down with the season-ending knee injury. In replacing Revis, Cro had one of the best seasons of his career and he was rewarded with his second Pro-bowl selection.
Many NFL critics assumed that coming into training camp this year things would be different on defense for New York without Revis. The team did not only lose the best cornerback in professional football, but they also lost a leader and a mentor to the younger players.
Being a former captain of the team, Revis impacted the opponents' gameplan, just by suiting up. So when the Jets had to prepare and go into training camp without him, Cromartie didn't notice any difference.
"My thing is just to be the leader I can be and be vocal with the young guys and make sure that they understand what we are trying to do on the back end," admitted Cromartie. "You know, just try to be more consistent in what I'm doing and also for the other guys to be more consistent also."
Cromartie's statement makes it seem as if Revis' leadership responsibilities are easily replaceable. Even though his interception stats have declined over the past few seasons, compared to his 10 interception season in 2007, Cro showed that he still has the hands in the Green and White scrimmage the other day, when he picked off a pass from QB Mark Sanchez. After the scrimmage, Cromartie reflected back on the great play.
"I think it was just a play where I was in press coverage," Cromartie noted. "It is just something that you have to expect coming from a West Coast Offense."
"So my thing was try to get the receiver off balance then once the ball is in the air I just try to go get the ball."
Cromartie is regarded as one of the best man-to-man covering corners in the game and one of the most physical corners as well. Still, the 29-year old is pressing big, young, strong receivers off their course and causing havoc on each play. So now after Sanchez threw his first pick of during a live scimmage to the hands of his veteran teammate, Cromartie weighed in on the QB competition.
"I think both of them did a great job," admitted Cromartie. "I think Geno completed some passes that sometimes you don't expect a rookie to complete. You know, Mark, he finished the day with a great play. To me that's what Mark is known for, getting the ball down the field and getting it to his weapons."
Sounds like Cromartie was impressed by the rookie's arm and his ability to put the ball in difficult spots for the defender to make a play on. The play that "Cro" mentioned was a deep ball down the field by Sanchez to his new favorite target, Stephen Hill.
With the first preseason game a week away, Cromartie is looking on point and ready to be the full time No. 1 corner for Gang Green.