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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Time to walk the walk for Jags, Pats

September 13. 2018 11:13PM

JALEN RAMSEY has had a lot of things to say about a lot of people, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at or near the top of his list.

Sunday, Ramsay may have to pay the price.

On Gronkowski, the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback said not long ago, “I don’t think Gronk’s good. Let me say — I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is.”

Seems he doesn’t think Gronk, the best player in football in these eyes, can get open against cornerbacks.

“Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game — and that corner has had a very good game,” Ramsey said.

Wednesday, Gronk answered. In the Patriots way, of course.

“If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” he said. “It’s a big game this Sunday. We’re playing them. I’m sure I’m going to have opportunities to go versus him. I’m sure he’s going to have opportunities to go versus me. I’m just preparing like I always prepare. I’ve got to just do my job out on the field, just worry about that.”

In the closest a Patriot will ever come to getting involved in something like this, Gronk does say it gives him motivation.

“For sure. There’s always motivation you’re looking for,” he said. “It does and it doesn’t. So, that’s tricky right there — doesn’t give you the answer you’re looking for. That was a trick question — you were trying to get me to say something, right? But, it does and it doesn’t, you know what I mean? Because it motivates you to hear that. Obviously, there’s something out there that he saw on film and stuff that I can probably get better at ... in some certain categories. You don’t always feel the best every single day when you’re out on the field, so if that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”

Rating Brady among the other quarterbacks, Ramsey tipped his hat — sort of. He said Brady “doesn’t (stink).”

Asked about that Wednesday, Brady said, “To not (stink)? I never want to (stink), so I don’t want to be in that category.”

Gronk rated Brady a 1 out of 10 when it comes to trash talking, saying, “I would say it’s on his QB sneaks when he talks trash, if he does.”

With Game 2 approaching, the Patriots’ revolving door continued to spin — players coming and going. And Rex Burkhead has a concussion, that coming on the heels of losing Jeremy Hill for the season in his first game with his new team.

100 and counting

The Red Sox reached 100 wins for the first time in more than four decades — fourth time ever — Wednesday. They are already in the playoffs and manager Alex Cora has to get his team together — most notably nursing Chris Sale through and make him effective in the postseason.

Face it, 100-plus wins in the regular season means nothing if you fall flat in October, right? “The goal is to win the World Series,” Cora said. “Since Day 1, we’ve talked about it here. I still remember that press conference. Obviously, we’ve got a shot now.”

It’s costly

The Associated Press reported the Red Sox and Nationals are the only teams that will have to pay a luxury tax penalty this season. For one of them, it was worth it.

The Red Sox payroll (unless something changes) of $238.4 million leads to a tax of $11.3 million. The Nats came in at $203.9 million, meaning they would owe just $2.1.

For the first time since the tax was instituted in 1993, the Yankees came in under the limit of $197 million.

J.D. Martinez has a chance to do something that hasn’t been done since Mickey Mantle in 1956 — lead BOTH leagues in batting average, homers and RBIs. Mantle batted .353 with 52 homers and 130 RBIs for the Yankees. He is trying to join Mantle, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb as the only players ever to win the MLB Triple Crown.

Kevin Cash, who has ushered his Rays through a great second-half story, has faced the Indians two series this month, giving him his chance to trade barbs with his old boss.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for him,” Cash says of Terry Francona. “I kid around, and can play back and forth with the jabs. But I don’t know if I could respect anybody more.”

Historically bad

Seven NFL teams had a new coach in Week 1. All seven of them lost, breaking the league record of 2001, when new coaches went 0-6.

Matt Patricia, whose Lions were tied 17-17 with the Jets, fell 48-17; Jon Gruden’s Raiders (for the second time) fell 33-13 to the Rams; Mike Vrabel’s Titans lost the game, lost Delanie Walker for the season and had Marcus Mariota leave with an injury; the Bears led the Packers 20-0 in Matt Nagy’s debut, and lost in a comeback by a hobbled Aaron Rodgers; Frank Reich’s Colts blew a 23-10 third-quarter lead against the Bengals; Steve Wilks’ Cardinals scored six points as Sam Bradford completed three passes of more eight yards; and Pat Shurmur’s Giants lost to the Jaguars despite 11 catches for 111 yards and by Odell Beckham Jr. and 106 yards rushing by rookie Saquon Barkley.

Glancing around

...Blake Snell and Jake Odorizzi both took no-hitters into the seventh inning Wednesday. Amazingly, they became the 43rd and 44th pitchers and the Rays the 45th team to have a no-no through at least six — another sign of the all or nothing mentality of hitting?

…The Bruins are on TV at 2:30 in the morning Saturday, the NHL Network televising the game from China. NESN has the rest of the B’s against Washington at TD Garden Sunday afternoon.

Patrice Bergeron, not on the trip, is missing the opening of camp with back spasms.

…The Knicks have made it clear, according to sources, Kyrie Irving, raised in New Jersey, is a priority if he reaches free agency next summer.

…Goalie Robin Lehner, now with the Islanders, has admitted he was addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills, and had suicidal thoughts late last season. He is also bipolar and received treatment at the league’s rehab center in Arizona.

…Jacksonville LB Myles Jack on Sunday’s game: “It’s definitely the most important game of my life ... the most important week of my life, for sure.”

…The Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr., fighting to find his control, said, “It’s funny. Ya’ll are writers. If all of a sudden you wanted to say something and forgot what you wanted to write about, and you’re just looking around like I know I had something on my mind but I just forgot. That’s how I look at it.”

Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass was a pick-six but the kid rebounded to pace the Jets Monday night. Coach Todd Bowles, trying to slow down the hype, said, “It’s only been one game. To sit here and say whether he’s great or whether he’s trash or whether he’s anything else is kind of way too early for that.”

…Through Wednesday night, when a 10-run inning led them to a 10-0 lead, the A’s were 34-15 since the All-Star break and had moved to within a game of the floundering Yankees for the home field in the wild card game.

John Smoltz was warming up for a save when Mike Piazza homered to give the Mets the dramatic win in the first game back after 9/11. This week, Smoltz told Chris Russo: “It’s the first time in my sports career where winning and losing really didn’t matter.”

David Wright will be activated for the Mets’ final homestand and then retire, unofficially ending his long and painful ordeal. He will start at third base Sept. 29 and that will likely be it.

Tyler Seguin has an eight-year/$78.8 million extension with Dallas.

Jabari Bird was being held on $50,000 bail for allegedly strangling his girlfriend into unconsciousness. The Celtics released a short statement that began with, “Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident. The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is

Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL