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Jaguars’ Gipson hopes to pick off Mahomes, add to collection

October 3, 2018

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2017, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson (39) looms over the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Gipson gets the task of covering Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Sunday. It's the kind of spotlight Gipson loves. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson has a collection of footballs waiting to be displayed in his man cave.

All of them are ones he intercepted during his seven years in the NFL.

Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger. Joe Flacco.

Gipson hopes to add to his haul Sunday when the Jaguars (3-1) play at unbeaten Kansas City and against second-year sensation Patrick Mahomes .

“He’s so good I hope he throws me one,” Gipson said Wednesday. “How ’bout this? I’m going to talk him up all week. He’s playing so good that when I pick him off I might have to put his ball up there with Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. That’s how good I think he is.”

Gipson was being a little sarcastic.

Although he gave Mahomes plenty of credit for starting the season with 14 touchdown passes and no interceptions, he also made it clear that he likes his team’s chances in a matchup featuring the league’s top offense against the league’s No. 1 defense .

“I’m taking this defense over everyone, no matter who we’re playing against, no matter who’s on offense,” Gipson said. “We’ve got the guys over here to do it. This is something that we’re built for. We’re built on speed. We’re built on toughness. We’re built on that fire and passion. We’re going to have a good outing on Sunday.”

On a defense filled with playmakers and trash-talkers, Gipson might be the best combination of both.

He guaranteed a victory against New England in Week 2, then went out and held Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to two receptions for 15 yards. He insisted New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold would be overwhelmed against Jacksonville last week and vowed to get the secondary’s first interception of the season. He did get a pick, but it was overturned because of a holding call on the opposite side of the field.

Gipson also mocked Minnesota in the preseason, saying there’s no way the Vikings would finish ahead of Jacksonville again in total defense. The Vikings are currently 21st. He also ripped Pro Bowl voting, which made him a fifth alternate last season.

“All of those guys confused me,” Gipson said. “It was a travesty.”

Gipson had 64 tackles, seven pass breakups and four interceptions in 2017, playing mostly in a single-high-safety scheme that forces him to cover sideline to sideline and often makes him the last line of defense.

He has 364 tackles and 19 interceptions total.

He’s often overshadowed on a defense that includes cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith and defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. But he’s far from overlooked by coaches and teammates.

“We call him the tight end whisperer,” Smith said.

Gipson has made it a goal to make the Pro Bowl this season and can add to his resume against Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has 23 receptions for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Slowing Kelce might be more important than getting a football with Mahomes’ name on it.

“This is what I get excited for,” Gipson said. “This is going to be huge. Not to make this an individual deal, but you want to win your one-on-one matchups. ... If you feel like you’re the best, if you feel like you want to put it out there that you’re the best, you’ve got to go against the best.

“You start getting the respect you deserve once you start doing it against the big people.”

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