Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Mathis Back on Field after Injury

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Mathis Back on Field after Injury

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

The Jaguars returned one of their ailing defensive starters Thursday.

Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who hadn't played since straining a quad muscle during the Pro Bowl last February, worked with the starters during the final organized team activity of the week Thursday.

"It's great to have him back," coach Jack Del Rio said.

According to Del Rio, Mathis probably could have played sooner, but the Jaguars decided to be cautious and held him out.

"We wanted to make certain it was behind him," Del Rio said.

Said Mathis: "I felt good. I'm trying to get back to 100 percent. I don't know if I'm there yet, but I'm close to it. Just being out there with the guys, the motivation and adrenaline is there, so I have to calm myself down sometimes."

Mathis' return leaves two defensive starters, end Reggie Hayward (Achilles tendon) and safety Donovin Darius (leg), still ailing.

LEFTWICH JOINS QB CHALLENGE

Byron Leftwich skipped the drills to travel to the Cayman Islands for this weekend's NFL Quarterback Challenge.

Among the other quarterbacks expected to attend are Atlanta's Michael Vick, Carolina's Jake Delhomme, Cleveland's Charlie Frye, Dallas' Brad Johnson, Minnesota's Tavaris Jackson and Washington's Jason Campbell.

The competition will be shown on ESPN on Aug. 3.

TAKING IT EASY ON THE ROOKIE

Jaguars rookie Mike Walker, who's being counted on to add speed to the receiving corps, returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his knee.

Walker suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season at Central Florida.

"We need to be smart," Del Rio said. "We're always going to take care of guys recovering from injuries."

Walker might have to miss some days during training camp in late July.

Even with Walker back, the Jaguars were still missing wide receivers Reggie Williams (hamstring) and Matt Jones (quad) and tight ends Marcedes Lewis (hamstring) and George Wrighster (torn labrum) at practice. …

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