Jaguars’ Mathis confused by lack of snaps at Bills

Coach Mike Mularkey took the blame for keeping veteran

cornerback Rashean Mathis on the sideline in Buffalo.

Mularkey said Monday he ”just made a mistake” by sticking with

second-year player Kevin Rutland in a 34-18 loss to the Bills.

Rutland got beat for a 51-yard gain on Buffalo’s opening drive,

which ended with a touchdown, and looked lost on Stevie Johnson’s

13-yard TD reception early in the third.

Mathis watched both plays from the sideline, confused by being

on the bench and convinced he could have made a difference.

”This is not to bash anybody. This is not to spark a big,

`What’s going on with Rashean thing,”’ said Mathis, who was

inactive for three games last month because of a groin injury. ”I

do have a voice, and this is the little voice I want to be

understood. … I feel good. I feel like I’m in a position to help

my team win.”

Mathis said he ”could have a right to act up” since he’s a

10-year veteran who has started 129 games. But he took the high

road, avoiding any potential conflicts with the team he has played

for since being drafted in the second round in 2003.

Mularkey, meanwhile, made it clear that Mathis will play more

beginning Sunday against the New York Jets (5-7). He might have to

since starters Derek Cox (hamstring) and Aaron Ross (calf) are

nursing injuries.

Mathis played 50 snaps the previous week against Tennessee,

after Cox and Ross left the game with injuries.

Mularkey gave no real answer when asked why Mathis was seemingly

benched against the Bills.

”It’s nobody’s fault but mine,” Mularkey said. ”I wish I’d

him in there earlier. It’s not like they were throwing the ball 40

times, but I should have had him in there, in the game, and

addressed it with him, knowing he was going to be talked to.”

Regardless, the way the season has unfolded has Mathis thinking

about the possibility of playing his final four games with his

hometown team.

”I’m not saying I haven’t thought about it,” Mathis said.

”That would be lying. It’s just what are you concentrating on.

That’s the main thing. What I’m concentrating on is what I’m going

to do today and then tomorrow and the next. That will allow other

things to play out.”

Mathis signed a one-year deal in March that could be worth up to

$5 million. It included a $1 million signing bonus and a $950,000

base salary – a low-risk deal that protected the team by re-signing

a 32-year-old player coming off reconstructive knee surgery. Mathis

could have earned the remaining $3.05 million in incentives tied to

playing time.

But playing just eight snaps against the Bills sure seemed like

his days in Jacksonville are numbered.

”You’ve been somewhere for so long you get comfortable,”

Mathis said. ”I’ve seen Freddy (Taylor) go. I’ve seen Donovin

Darius go. I’ve seen guys go. I know that’s the nature of the

business, so I’m not naive. I’ve seen the best Jaguars in the

history of the franchise get let go and go to another team. I’m not

naive. It’s reality. Michael Jordan went to another team. Who am I?

That’s just the nature of the business, the nature of sports.

”And if you can’t face that reality, something is wrong. I can

look in the mirror and I can face reality. I’m a logical person. I

try to be as real as I can be with myself.”

For Mathis, who has mostly avoided controversy, his comments

proved to be as much popping off as he’s done in a decade.

”I’m going to do things the right way,” said Mathis, who vowed

to play somewhere next season. ”I tweaked my groin, and I respect

the coaches in saying they didn’t want me to favor one side over

the other. Taking a couple weeks off helped and it made me

stronger. I was concentrating on lifting and building my leg

stronger, which you don’t have time to do if you’re practicing

every day and taking reps like that, so the rest help.

”But it’s only so much rest I need. I’m going to leave it at


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