There aren't many individual rivalries in today's NFL. Often times, these "beefs" are more of the White Castle slider variety than a Big Mac—smaller, bite-size, fleeting competition that dies after one or two matchups when one or both of the players involved begin to regress.
However, there has been one major exception to this as of late: Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf versus Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who've already given us five rounds of some of the best back-and-forth you'll find on the gridiron. It's not common to see two of the game's best go at it as often as Ramsey and Metcalf have, but thanks to the arms race that is the NFC West, both players are destined to battle it out twice a season (or more) for the foreseeable future. So for the past two years, since Ramsey was dealt to Los Angeles from Jacksonville, these two have traded blows in an episodic duel for the ages like something out of Dragon Ball Z.
But in the mid-pandemic NFL, there's no guarantee who you'll see—or won't see—the next time you tune in. As such, while their respective teams are still set to square off in a Week 15 bout at SoFi Stadium this Sunday, Ramsey and Metcalf's individual rematch may be put on hold due to the former's current health status.
On Monday, Ramsey was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the team's 30-23 win over the Cardinals. As of this writing, he's one of 14 Rams players from their 53-man roster to receive such a designation, along with running back Darrell Henderson Jr., receiver Odell Beckham Jr., defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and safety Jordan Fuller.
There is still a chance Ramsey, who's vaccinated, could return in time for Sunday's 1:25 p.m. kickoff if he produces two negative tests within a 24-hour timeframe. But for now, his ability to do so is very much up in the air.
David Long Jr. got the start at left cornerback in Ramsey's absence on Monday, allowing three catches on nine targets to Cardinals receivers for 28 yards. With nickelback Dont'e Deayon also on the reserve/COVID-19 list and rookie Robert Rochell (chest) placed on injured reserve last week, Long and Darious Williams are the only two cornerbacks on L.A.'s active roster right now. Its practice squad is also fairly limited, offering former Penn State product Grant Haley and Kareem Orr, who played 40 snaps in Arizona as Deayon's replacement.
This bodes well for the Seahawks' star receiving duo of Metcalf and Tyler Lockett—particularly the former of which who has yet to find the end zone since Halloween. Upon the Week 10 return of quarterback Russell Wilson, fresh off finger surgery, Metcalf has caught just 17 of 42 targets for 173 yards and an EPA per target of -0.17, according to TruMedia.
Metcalf has also gotten the shorter end of the stick in his five battles with Ramsey as well. Here's how that's broken down:
The biggest outlier there, of course, is their most recent matchup. On Thursday Night Football, some moments before Wilson suffered his aforementioned finger injury, Metcalf got the best of Ramsey. First, he turned the corner around on a beautiful stop-and-go before reeling in a floater from Wilson for 25 yards. Then, two drives later, Metcalf created just enough space between him and Ramsey on a nice post route to squeak his way through the corner and safety Taylor Rapp and push across the goal line for a 19-yard score.
Will Ramsey be able to bounce back and re-establish his dominance in this head-to-head showdown? Or will Metcalf, now with a personal win under his belt, continue to flip the script? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions may have to wait until 2022 if Ramsey is unable to make it back this week.
Of course, dodging the two-time All-Pro selection would certainly benefit Seattle's chances of extending its current winning streak to three games. But Ramsey's potential absence would also rob the world of one of the more intriguing aspects of all Seahawks-Rams matchups.
Alas, such is the nature of the world we currently inhabit and the NFL we follow.