LIONS INSIDER

Rashean Mathis: 'I feel like I will be better than I was last year'

Posted Apr 29, 2014

Rashean Mathis will turn 34 years old in August and is entering his 12th season in the NFL. Age, however, wasn’t an issue at all for Mathis last year.

Rashean Mathis will turn 34 years old in August and is entering his 12th season in the NFL.

Age, however, wasn’t an issue at all for Mathis or the Lions in 2013.

Rashean MathisCB Rashean Mathis (Photo: Gavin Smith)

He joined the team midway through training camp a season ago and emerged as a starter after rookie Darius Slay struggled early on. Mathis ended up playing in 15 games and making 13 starts, and finished the season with 47 tackles, 15 passes defended and the title as the Lions most consistent cornerback.

Mathis re-upped with the Lions for another year this offseason and head coach Jim Caldwell is expecting the same kind of consistency.

“I have a lot of respect for Rashean,” Caldwell said last week after a voluntary minicamp practice. “He was one of those guys that, you know, every single time we played them, you had to know where he was because he was extremely knowledgeable.

“You could tell he had a real good feel for the game. Besides his athletic talents, he’s long, has range. Now, he does a tremendous job of knowing himself and what he can and can’t do. He can put himself in the best position to succeed. I think that’s invaluable, but also he’s a great instructor.”

Caldwell talking about Mathis knowing “what he can and can’t do" sticks out from that statement. Sometimes veteran players aren’t realistic in terms of their bodies or their current strengths and weakness.

Don’t count Mathis among that group of players.

“It’s very important for a guy to know his body,” Mathis told detroitlions.com. “Whether young or not, but you see it more in older guys. Okay, I might have been able to stay in my backpedal a little longer when I was younger or whatever the case might be. Whatever that is you have to evaluate yourself and not just allow coaches to evaluate you.

“So when you learn to evaluate yourself and learn to critique yourself and be your biggest critic, that’s when you’re able to excel in this game.”

Mathis certainly didn’t show any signs of age last year. His 15 passes defended were more than Denver’s Dominique Rogers-Cromartie (14) and New England’s Aqib Talib (14), two of the most sought after free-agent cornerbacks this offseason. It’s worth noting Mathis was just a year removed from an ACL injury, too.

“Not all people like to criticize themselves,” Mathis said. “They’re like, ‘Oh no, I’m good, I’ll get it next time.’ What do you mean you didn’t get it this time? There was something wrong with it. Find out what was wrong with it and critique yourself. I always say I‘m my biggest critic."

Mathis said this coaching staff knows what they have in him and plan to accentuate his strengths.

He's expected to compete with Chris Houston and Darius Slay for a starting spot. He also proved he could play inside last year when needed.

“I feel like I will be better than I was last year because I’m a year older and I know myself a little more,” Mathis said. “That’s me being a competitor.

"For them to put me in a better situation, I have to first critique myself and evaluate myself so I can be at my best and then it allows them to do whatever they want with me.”