Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Boast Confident Cornerbacks; All Hype Is about T.O., but Mathis, Williams Will Be There in Coverage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Boast Confident Cornerbacks; All Hype Is about T.O., but Mathis, Williams Will Be There in Coverage

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams will never be known by their initials

the way T.O. is.

Yet the Jaguars cornerbacks will share the spotlight with Terrell Owens on Sunday at Alltel Stadium.

When Owens makes his first regular-season appearance in a Dallas Cowboys uniform, he'll try to show that he's still one of the best -- if not the best -- wide receiver in the NFL.

But it's also a chance for Mathis and Williams to prove they're among the best at their craft.

"I love the challenge," Williams said. "I wouldn't want to go out there and have an easy opponent. You want to go out there and play the best. We match up against good receivers every week. That's what we do for a living."

Added Mathis: "I was made for this. I'm a cornerback and striving to be a great cornerback. If I didn't have that mentality. I'm at the wrong position.

"One mistake, and the spotlight is on you. All a cornerback has to do is make one mistake. There's nobody behind you."

Mathis knows the up and downs of a cornerback's life. He returned an interception for a game-winning touchdown in Pittsburgh during the sixth game last season, but he broke his finger in Cleveland during the 12th game. The following week, Marvin Harrison beat Mathis on a double move for a 65-yard touchdown catch, giving the Indianapolis Colts a 17-0 lead in a game they won 26-18.

"It's just a learning process," Mathis said. "Any mistake you make, you learn how to bounce back."

Mathis, a Jacksonville native, also believes he has improved this year.

"I made some goals for myself, personally," he said. "I did what I needed to go to get better."

This also is a chance for the Jaguars' defense to show how good it is. The Cowboys-Jaguars matchup is one of the NFL's premier openers and will be the Fox doubleheader game shown to a national TV audience.

Since Owens played only 18 snaps during the preseason, the Jaguars don't know how the Cowboys will use him and whether Mathis or Williams will cover him more in this game.

Mathis, drafted in the second round by the Jaguars in 2003, and Williams, drafted in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2002 before signing with Jacksonville as a free agent this spring, both have big-money contracts, even though they aren't big names. …

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