RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gushed about the on-field battle of cornerback Richard Sherman and New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall in Seattle's 27-17 victory two weeks ago.
"I thought it was a great matchup with Sherm and Marshall. Fantastic to watch," Carroll said after the game.
The battle between Sherman and Marshall has seemingly set the stage for another heavyweight matchup Sunday in Seattle as Sherman will likely draw the assignment of covering Falcons star wideout Julio Jones.
Sherman has been called upon to follow star opponents more frequently in recent seasons. Seattle used to keep Sherman exclusively on the left side of the defense and leave the second cornerback (Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead, Cary Williams or Jeremy Lane) on the right side. But, as Seattle's defense has evolved, the Seahawks have become more comfortable with Sherman shadowing certain receivers.
"It's all of the circumstances," Carroll said. "It's the players that we're playing against. It's the matchups from our team to their team. It's the next level of guys that we match up against, what's necessary in the game plan. We just take a whole bucket full of thoughts and decide what seems to fit best."
Sherman is quick to point out that it's not his call. He plays wherever the coaching staff determines is best for the team. Nevertheless, he enjoys testing himself against the league's best.
"There's some selfishness to that," Sherman said. "As a competitor, you love the challenge, but I don't let it really affect me throughout the week or through my game-planning or preparation."
Sherman has always been complimentary of Jones as an opponent. However, they've faced each other only once despite their teams playing three times since they entered the league in 2011. Sherman was not yet a starter when Jones caught 11 passes for 127 yards against Seattle in 2011. Jones did not play due to injury the last time the teams met, in 2013.
The only time they have faced each other was in the 2012 playoffs, when Jones caught six passes for 59 yards. However, Sherman was not exclusively on Jones in that meeting.
"He's a workhorse. Whether it's a run play, a pass play, he's going to work. He's going to be blue-collar. He's going to block hard," Sherman said.
After the Seahawks beat the Jets in New York two weeks ago, Sherman pointed out that Jones had posted a 300-yard receiving day against the Carolina Panthers.
"Carolina is usually a very stout defense, so (I'm) very surprised," Sherman said. "But he's a great ballplayer. He led the league in yards last year. He's always in the top two or three in yards. He's always making an impact. If he's on the field, he's going to give you a full day's work."