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Week 4 cornerback rankings: Josh Norman is the new No. 1

Ike Taylor is no stranger to being on an island. The former Steelers cornerback helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 12-year career. For the second straight year, Taylor's weekly series will feature one pertinent cornerback on "Ike's Island," where he breaks down the player's on-field play and significance heading into the coming week. In addition, he lists his updated top-10 cornerback rankings and top-three CB duos.

Featured on Ike's Island this week ...

David Amerson and Sean Smith, Oakland Raiders

This is a big week for a Raiders team coming off a blowout loss in Washington. The offense has been dominant at times, yet the defense has struggled, specifically in the secondary. And that's why I'm actually spotlighting two cornerbacks on Ike's Island this week. In Week 3, David Amerson and Sean Smith couldn't keep the Redskins out of the end zone, as they allowed a combined six receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns, per Next Gen Stats. This season, Amerson has been the worse of the two, giving up 10 receptions on 17 targets for 216 yards, with a TD-to-INT ratio of 2:0. Oh, and he's allowing a whopping 131.3 passer rating against. Smith has given up five catches on seven targets for 89 yards, a 1:0 TD-to-INT ratio. Better, but he's allowing an even-worse 153.3 passer rating against.

This pair hasn't looked great, to say the least, and I need them to button up -- like I do with my fly suits on NFL Network's "Total Access." Amerson and Smith are struggling in coverage because they aren't playing the ball well. They're in position to make plays ... but are waiting for the ball to come to them rather than high-pointing the pass and deflecting it.

In this week's divisional contest vs. the Broncos, the Raiders corners have to look out for the play-action pass. Denver QB Trevor Siemian is at his best when C.J. Anderson and the run game are rolling. When corners face dynamic passing offenses -- like those of the Packers and Saints -- they are focused on receivers and prepared to stay in coverage for most of the game. But when facing a team like Denver that loves play action, cornerbacks can often get lured to sleep. Wide receivers are physical and will block and block and block, until they catch you sleeping. They'll block then run by, leaving the CB in the dust. Tackling is key in these matchups, so Amerson and Smith must be dialed in on every snap.

Week 4 cornerback rankings: My top 10

EDITOR'S NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from Ike's Week 3 rankings.

What an outing by the Redskins' defense in the team's upset win over Oakland. The Raiders' offense was completely out of sorts, as Derek Carr's favorite targets ( Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree) had one catch apiece. Norman, who lined up 11 times against Cooper and five against Crabtree, allowed just one catch for seven yards (to Crabtree), letting his dominant performance be known after the contest. Washington's CB1 has yet to give up a touchdown this season, but will face another tough opponent in Week 4, when Washington heads to Kansas City. The focus for Norman, who's vulnerable on deep routes, will be keeping the sunroof closed on the Chiefs' Ferrari (Tyreek Hill).

The veteran was targeted just once by Tyrod Taylor, which resulted in an incompletion. He's got some "respek" on his name. But it's a new week, and Talib and the Broncos' defense face their biggest test thus far on Sunday afternoon. We'll get to that in the tandems section below.

If we're solely talking about how Sherman played in coverage Sunday, the man balled out (again). He allowed three receptions on six targets for 30 yards. However, there's no excuse for getting three -- THREE! -- penalties on one play. He must play smarter because the Seahawks, who are 1-2, are struggling offensively. Sherman's four total penalties on Sunday were worth 31 yards (two of those penalties were declined by the Titans), and that's 31 yards too many. This week against the Colts, he has to eliminate penalties and stay plastered on T.Y. Hilton and Co. because Jacoby Brissett does a good job extending plays behind his poor offensive line.

Peters is a young savage, so I'm not sure why he continues to get so many targets. He constantly makes quarterbacks pay, as he nabbed the 15th interception -- on a pass in which he wasn't targeted, actually -- of his career (most in the NFL since 2015). Like Norman, Peters is vulnerable to the deep ball so he has to keep his eyes on and stay with Josh Doctson and Co.

 [Dak Prescott](/player/dakprescott/2555260/profile) 
 [was impressive](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000852374/article/qb-index-week-4-dak-prescott-facing-new-challenges) in Monday night's victory and smartly avoided Peterson all night. When Peterson lined up against 
 [Dez Bryant](/player/dezbryant/497278/profile), Prescott didn't throw Dez's way once. Bryant did score a touchdown in the game, but Peterson, playing zone, wasn't in coverage on the play. However, Peterson did miss an open-field tackle on the play and Bryant 
 [pushed his way](http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000851794/Can-t-Miss-Play-Dez-goes-1-on-5-vs-Cardinals-still-scores-TD) into the end zone. It's so important for cornerbacks to be able to tackle in open space. I can't stress that enough. 

Despite Arizona's early struggles, Peterson leads the NFL in coverage snaps per target (15), yards allowed per coverage snap (.21) and coverage snaps per reception (35), according to Pro Football Focus. His numbers shouldn't waver in this weekend's divisional matchup against the 49ers.

He's slowly but surely climbing this list because he's shown the NFL world that he's a shutdown corner since the middle of last season. Mike Evans let it be known Wednesday via Twitter that the "Rhodes" weren't closed Sunday, yet Rhodes kept the physical receiver out of the end zone. Evans finished with 53 yards on nine targets against Rhodes, who has held opposing receivers to 11 receptions, 113 receiving yards and zero touchdowns on 21 targets in coverage (68.2 passer rating against) this season. Quite impressive, considering the receivers he's faced: Michael Thomas in Week 1, Antonio Brown in Week 2 and Evans in Week 3.

Rhodes must be aware of the jump ball against the Lions. It's basketball on grass every time Matthew Stafford and Co. take the field. The highest-paid QB in the league, Stafford loves to throw it downfield and allow his receivers the chance to make a play. The receiver to watch out for: rookie Kenny Golladay on slant routes.

Harris didn't have his best performance last week, giving up two receptions on three targets for 53 yards -- all to Jordan Matthews. Harris moves down three spots because Marcus Peters, Patrick Peterson and Xavier Rhodes out-performed him in Week 3.

Trufant thought I was sleeping on him, but I'm not. I wanted to see how he bounced back from his injury -- and, well, he's proven he belongs. The reason Atlanta paid him this offseason? Through Week 3, Trufant has allowed seven receptions on 12 targets for 69 yards, a TD-to-INT ratio of 0:1 and a 39.9 passer rating against. The dude is on fire. And I expect the same consistency this weekend against the Bills that he's shown thus far.

Jacksonville's finally putting it together on defense, and the addition of Bouye has certainly helped. The first-year Jaguar notched his first interception of the season in London, one of Jacksonville's four first-half takeaways. He was the aggressor on the play, breaking up the pass before picking off Joe Flacco. His athletic ability really boosts the Jags' secondary.

Speaking of athletic, did you see Ramsey's interception last week? I'm sure the queen was happy to see that. I know I was. Ramsey is well on his way to improving on his two-pick rookie campaign.

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos; Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants; Darius Slay, Detroit Lions; Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers; Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles Rams; Adam Jones, Cincinnati Bengals; Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers.

WEEK 4 CORNERBACK DUOS: MY TOP THREE

This veteran tandem faces a receiving corps that's in its prime. Harris and Talib have played well to date but the Raiders will be their greatest test yet -- and maybe all season. The Broncos must play a physical game against the Raiders like the Redskins did in Week 3. The Redskins' physicality prevented Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree from doing anything on the perimeter. The Broncos should be able to at least match that.

 *Next up: [vs. Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2017100112/2017/REG4/raiders@broncos)* 
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Players: A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.

Man, these guys looked good at Wembley. The Jaguars' defense allowed the Ravens just 52 passing yards (third-fewest in franchise history) in Week 3, in part because of this dynamic duo. On eight targets, the pair allowed just two catches for 11 yards -- and snagged two interceptions in the process. That's a 0.0 passer rating against! Their play, along with the rest of the Jags' D, led to Joe Flacco's benching prior to the fourth quarter, and helped this team have a record above .500 after three games for the first time since 2007. If Bouye and Ramsey continue to play aggressively, Josh McCown and the Jets' passing attack -- with deep threat Robby Anderson -- will struggle against the secondary. It will, however, be important to tackle well because the Jets know their strength is the run game.

 *Next up: [at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2017100108/2017/REG4/jaguars@jets)* 
</content:power-ranking>

It's clear Breeland put the struggles of yesteryear behind him, which was necessary if he wants to be a good corner in this league. Offenses took advantage of him last year (Norman's first season in Washington), but he's holding his own in 2017. Breeland has allowed four catches on 10 targets for 48 yards, no touchdowns and a 55.4 passer rating against in 2017. It's day and night from a year ago.

When facing a Chiefs offense that features Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and other dynamic skill players, tackling is huge. There's a lot of speed, and if Norman and Breeland let receivers get behind them, it's going to be a long night.

 *Next up: [at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday.](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2017100200/2017/REG4/Redskins@Chiefs)* 
</content:power-ranking>

Cornerback tandems that just missed the cut: Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, New York Giants; Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons; Artie Burns and Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Follow Ike Taylor on Twitter @Ike_SwagginU.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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