FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Say this for Antonio Allen: He's not easily intimidated. The New York Jets' safety-turned-cornerback is a neophyte in the heavyweight class, and he's about to step into the ring against the undisputed champion, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Awed? Not really.
"I haven't seen anything on film yet, but I'm pretty sure he has some weaknesses," Allen said Wednesday. "Just like everybody else, he has stuff he can work on. It's going to be my job to try to exploit it."
This should be interesting Sunday.
To his credit, Allen has held up reasonably well at his new position, but the competition is about to jump a few notches. As Allen noted, "He's probably the best receiver in the league, hands down." Johnson -- a.k.a. Megatron -- is so freakishly good that Rex Ryan was at a loss when asked if he reminds him of any player he's ever seen.
"I'm a football historian, but no," said Ryan, finally throwing out the name of Boyd Dowler, a 6-foot-5 tight end on the great Green Bay Packers teams of the 1960s.
No offense to Mr. Dowler, but Johnson is in a different league. He's a three-time All Pro who has averaged more than 100 yards per game during the last three-plus seasons. Allen covered some ultra-athletic tight ends in his days as a safety, namely Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, but Johnson is different.
"He's much faster than any tight end I've covered," he said.
Johnson, speaking to the New York media, said there's "no doubt" he's looking forward to facing the Jets' corners, Allen and Darrin Walls. He also said he's eager to face a defense that uses a single-high safety, the scheme preferred by Ryan. That usually means man-to-man coverage on the receivers, with a safety (usually Calvin Pryor) roaming the deep middle.
Look for Ryan to cook up a wrinkle for Johnson. No, there won't be single coverage.
"I may be crazy," Ryan said, "but I'm not that crazy."
Linebacker Demario Davis suggested that Allen will be primarily responsible for Johnson. Davis commended Allen and Walls for limiting the Chicago Bears' receivers, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, to only one big play Monday night -- Jeffery's 42-yard catch on Allen.
"For us to give up only one explosive play on the outside, that's humongous, especially with the way people are trash-talking about our corners," Davis said. "[Allen] is holding up against the best receivers in the league. We'll put Double-A on Calvin Johnson and let them lock up. I trust he'll do a good job. The only time they're going to catch a ball on him is if the ref doesn't call a push-off."
Jeffery got away with a push-off on the 42-yard reception, according to Davis. The previous week, Jordy Nelson scorched the Jets for 209 yards, with 80 coming on a touchdown against Dee Milliner. Obviously, Johnson is thinking "monster game" against the Jets. Asked his opinion of Allen and Walls, Megatron stumbled for words.
"Uh, let's see ... just from watching the film I've watched so ... you know, just ... they play what the coach asks them to play," he said. "They're ... I mean, oh, shoot. I don't have anything negative to say about them."