NFL's best matchup? Hopkins vs. Ramsey in the conversation

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HOUSTON -- It's no secret that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins may be the most competitive player in the Houston Texans' locker room.

So when he has the chance to go up against one of "the best corners in the game" -- Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey -- he's understandably excited for the challenging matchup.

"When people mention the top receivers in the league, if they're not mentioning him, they haven't played against him." Jaguars coach Doug Marrone on Houston's DeAndre Hopkins

Though Hopkins always "shows up on Sundays" ready to play, quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan said he sees a tough battle between Hopkins and Ramsey.

"Any time those types of guys go after well-respected corners or good corners, guys that are really up there, I think it brings out their competitive juices," Ryan said.

Hopkins says he "loves" the chance to face Ramsey twice a season, and that the young cornerback is "competitive" and "matches up against me well, better than a lot of other corners."

"I love playing guys that are at that level, the All-Pro level," Hopkins said. "That's what I play football for -- the challenge of going up against guys like that."

The pair has faced off in four games, which is the second-most times a receiver has gone against Ramsey. Only T.Y. Hilton has faced Ramsey more.

Hopkins scored in both games against the Jaguars last season. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Ramsey was the nearest defender in coverage on both touchdowns. Ramsey did not allow a touchdown as the nearest defender to any other player last season.

Ramsey also pressed Hopkins -- meaning he lined up less than three yards from the receiver at the time of the snap -- on 50 percent of his targets, compared to just 20 percent for all other receivers. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hopkins has been one of the best in the league against press coverage. Since the start of last season, Hopkins' 10 touchdown catches against press coverage are the most in the NFL.

"When people mention the top receivers in the league, if they're not mentioning him, they haven't played against him,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "When you look at what he does -- tight coverage, he catches it, he runs the routes, run after the catch. Everybody in the stadium knows the ball's going to him at certain times and he's still making those plays. The guy is just relentless, maniacal in how he plays."

Ramsey is well-respected in the Texans' locker room by a group that appreciates the way the All-Pro corner plays the game and the way he is able to back up all the talking he does on and off the field, even though he was uncharacteristically quiet entering this Week 7 matchup (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS).

Ramsey matches up so well against Hopkins, cornerback Johnathan Joseph said, because of his size and his ability to be physical with Hopkins -- especially at the line of scrimmage. "It will be a heavyweight fight," Joseph said.

"It's always been a good matchup since Jalen has been in the league," Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. "He's a great player. He has all the qualities that you look for in a great corner. He's got good length, he's competitive, he has good ball skills, he can run. Hopkins is a great receiver, so it’s a big part of the game."

The Texans have relied heavily on Hopkins so far this season. Deshaun Watson and Hopkins rank third in receiving yards and sixth in targets and receptions among quarterback and receiver combinations this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu called Ramsey one of the top three cornerbacks in the league and said he's looking forward to Sunday's "showdown."

Said Ryan: "There's going to be some physical play at the line of scrimmage and down the field. Both guys have won in the past. Each of them have won enough battles. So it makes it a good battle on the outside for both those guys."