THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins met with regularity when they were with the Jaguars and Texans, respectively, and their twice-a-year matchups resumed when Hopkins got traded to the Cardinals last offseason.
On Sunday, two players will meet for the 10th time in six seasons on Sunday when the Rams host the Cardinals at SoFi Stadium (1:05 p.m. pacific time, FOX).
"I've always had it twice a year, even when I was in Jacksonville and he was a Texan," Ramsey said after Friday's practice. "So, it's always been twice a year since I've been in the league. I look forward to it."
It's a healthy rivalry built on mutual respect.
On Ramsey's side, that comes from Hopkins' approach to the game, which displays a common mindset.
"He's one of the best in the game," Ramsey said. "The way he plays, he respects the game – how could I not respect that. Going against one of the not only best receivers in the game, but, in my opinion, the best in the game. Also, he's like an ultimate competitor. Every play where we're kind of competing, I'm the same way, I'm wired the same way. That's kind of where a lot of that comes from."
Hopkins shared the same respect towards Ramsey early in the 2019 season, calling him his "favorite corner to play against."
"He's the only in the NFL that actually follows me," Hopkins told FOX 26 Sports Director Mark Berman on September 12, 2019. "You got to respect that. No matter where I lineup he's right there in front of me. A lot of guys claim they're number one DBs, but not a lot of guys do that."
Each player was named a First Team All-Pro in 2017, with Hopkins earning his second and third appearances in 2018 and 2019 respectively and Ramsey winning his second last year.
Their nine matchups to date are tied for fourth-most in the last 15 seasons by a wide receiver-cornerback duo that made First-Team All-Pro in same season at some point in their careers, according to NFL Media Research, and their 10th this Sunday would move them into a tie with Wes Welker and Darrelle Revis for third-most.
For context, the duos of Steve Smith and Ronde Barber and Calvin Johnson and Charles Tillman are tied for the most such matchups with 12 each.
Will Ramsey travel with Hopkins on Sunday?
"Perhaps," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "(Hopkins is) a great player. They're doing a good job moving the ball around. I think there'll be some times that they might be matched up, and there might be some other times where they're not. But, Jalen's versatility will be on display, as will DeAndre's and sometimes those guys will be aligned on one another. Similar to when you guys (media) were asking about Aaron (Donald) and (Colts offensive lineman) Quenton Nelson a couple of weeks ago. So, these are two premier players at their positions. There'll be some times, but that versatility that Jalen displays is something that we'll look into, but we'll see how the game unfolds."