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New York Jets coach Rex Ryan assigns Antonio Cromartie to defend Dolphins wideout Brandon Marshall

BY Kevin Armstrong


Saturday, September 25th 2010, 4:00 AM

Andy Blenkush/APNew York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie draws the assignment of defending Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall (19) Sunday night.

"I saw Marshall at the Pro Bowl," Rex Ryan said. "I couldn't believe how big he was. He's one of those guys that when you look at him, you're like, 'Man, how do you cover this dude?'"

Acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Denver Broncos, Marshall, a 6-4, 230-pound veteran, made his mark immediately the opening two weeks with 12 catches for 124 yards as the Dolphins won two road games. He has not reached the end zone, however, and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who stands a lean 6-2, will be charged with maintaining that scoreless streak tomorrow night when the Jets (1-1) visit Sun Life Stadium. They will be the night's most-watched pairing.

"Marshall's huge," said Ryan, whose team lost both games against Miami last year. "Then you look at Cromartie and it's the same thing. Corners aren't supposed to look like that."

Cromartie's capabilities will be necessary because fellow cornerback Darrelle Revis will be out tomorrow night due to a hamstring injury he suffered against the Patriots last Sunday. After giving a spirited halftime speech to the team in the locker room, Cromartie kept Randy Moss from making a catch the rest of the game.

"He knew right away that Darrelle was going to be down and that all of a sudden everybody's looking at him and saying, 'Hey, you're the No. 1 guy,'" Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. "I think he's not a guy who's going to hide from that opportunity. He relishes in it."

In 2008, Marshall manhandled the Chargers. He caught 18 balls for 166yards and a TD while Cromartie covered him on about 12 plays, drawing four flags on the day.

"We've had good, physical battles," Cromartie said.

Lately, Cromartie has been Marshall's kryptonite, limiting him to 14 receptions for 130 yards and no touchdowns in their past three meetings.

"I have to be as physical as possible in those first five yards," Cromartie said. "I know, for one, he's not going to run by me so I can play underneath on a lot of stuff."

Ryan, for one, is looking forward to the "big" matchup.

"Two great athletes going against each other, two huge guys for their positions," Ryan said. "I mean they are giants for their positions."

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