MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Xavien Howard ranks high among the NFL's best cornerbacks. Calvin Ridley is in a similar class of receivers. Pairing those two up over two joint practices?
Get your popcorn ready.
It was a fun matchup whenever it took place over the Wednesday and Thursday sessions, with quality back and forth between the two.
Ridley controlled proceedings on Wednesday, but Thursday was a far more even battle. Howard had an interception and tipped another pass that was picked off by Jevon Holland. Howard was generally sticky in coverage, and there was an early rep coaches started over after Howard prevented Ridley from getting a release in one-on-one red zone drills.
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Ridley was a focal point of the Dolphins secondary no matter who was covering him, with Howard and fellow top cornerback Byron Jones playing physical and aggressive in coverage.
The Falcons' top receiver was targeted often and still made some plays, including this beauty early on:
While these joint practices can be intense, they're still just preparation for the regular season. Getting work against a top player only serves to make all competitors better.
"It's a nice matchup," Howard said. "I appreciate that we're doing the joint practices. We're just focused on getting better. Every week we go up against a top receiver no matter where we're at, so just getting better and just working on guys, seeing different ways and how you can play different guys in this league."
Howard came away with respect for Ridley after going against him so often over two days.
"(He's an) all-around receiver – releases, fast," Howard said. "That's what you're looking for in a receiver. He has nice releases. Catching the ball – anywhere the ball is at, he's going to go get it. That's what you want from a receiver with everything – all of the techniques and everything."