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Rex: CB battle continues as Big Ben looms

11/3/2014

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- So now it's Ben Roethlisberger against the New York Jets' secondary.

This should be fun.

OK, maybe not so much fun for a New York secondary that has looked overmatched against passing offenses that are much less in sync than the one Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers will bring to MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Jets' secondary is still such a mess that coach Rex Ryan announced he'll again be conducting an open competition all week for the chance to start at cornerback against Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

#7 QB
Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 STATS

  • Att338
  • Comp231

  • Yds2720

  • TD22

  • Int3

  • Rat110.6

That's assuming any of the Jets' cornerbacks really wants that chance.

Roethlisberger has thrown six touchdown passes in back-to-back games. No one in the NFL is hotter right now -- not even the teams that have already had a chance against the Jets.

"They're on fire right now," Ryan said Monday after watching a couple of Steelers game films. "Clearly, there's a major concern there. The other thing is they're an outstanding rushing football team. To say we have our work cut out for us I think is an understatement.

"Right now, they're carving people up."

The Jets have used five different starting cornerbacks already this season. Ryan started Antonio Allen and Marcus Williams on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and then benched Allen at halftime and replaced him with Josh Thomas.

He praised the work by Williams, an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota State who was playing in his first NFL game. But Ryan wouldn't commit to anyone for this week, and he said the Jets will likely use all four of their healthy cornerbacks -- Williams, Allen, Thomas and Phillip Adams -- in the game against Pittsburgh.

Stopping Roethlisberger, or even slowing down the Steelers' offense, obviously will fall on more than just the Jets' cornerbacks.

"We all know Ben," Ryan said. "This is a Hall of Fame quarterback. It's always a challenge. He goes about his business differently than some of the other quarterbacks. He'll hold it, he's hard to bring down. We know all those things he brings.

"It's impressive, to say the least."

Ryan said he has already watched tape of the Steelers' Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns held Roethlisberger to 228 yards and just one touchdown and won the game 31-10.

But Ryan doesn't have the same players available that the Browns did. He has what he has, and he has so little certainty that he's not even sure who he wants to start.

With all that, Ryan tried to project some confidence.

"Will our corners be up to it?" Ryan said, repeating a question. "Yeah, they'll be up to it."

Perhaps they will be, but the truth is closer to what Ryan said before:

"Obviously, it's a huge concern."

And, perhaps for Roethlisberger, a huge opportunity for a third straight huge week.