Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Nelson Looking to Bounce Back from Bad Week; Ex-UF Standout Hopes a Return to His Safety Spot Will Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Nelson Looking to Bounce Back from Bad Week; Ex-UF Standout Hopes a Return to His Safety Spot Will Help

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

Jaguars veteran Rashean Mathis had a message for Reggie Nelson this week.

"I let him know he's a great athlete, one of the best athletes on the team and in the league, so he has to be prepared mentally to let this go," Mathis said.

What Nelson needs to let go are his struggles at cornerback last week while replacing Mathis in the 30-13 loss at Tennessee.

Nelson missed several tackles and gave up a touchdown pass. Now the task for Nelson is to rebound Sunday against Kansas City.

"I had a bad week a couple of weeks ago [against Seattle]," Mathis said. "We have to respond positively to it. He's a young talent, so my job as a veteran is to help that talent blossom so he can be one of the best players in the game."

One thing that will help Nelson is Mathis returned to practice Wednesday after being sidelined last week with a broken left index finger. If Mathis can play Sunday, and he said he will, Nelson can move back to safety.

"Of course, he's more comfortable [at safety]," Mathis said. "It's like putting me at linebacker."

Coach Jack Del Rio made it obvious Monday that Nelson has to step up his game if he's to remain in the lineup.

"Clearly, for him to continue to play, he's got to play better," Del Rio said. "Anybody that's going to play for us has got to play at a higher level than that. He understands that very clearly."

On Wednesday, Del Rio seemed convinced Nelson will bounce back.

"He's a prideful guy," Del Rio said. "Our football players will bounce back."

Mathis said of Del Rio's comments, "I'm sure some stuff was said. People wanted to get some things off their chest that needed to stay on their chest instead of saying it out loud.

"He's been tackling really well the first six weeks this year, so to cast him out just because of one bad week, that's not the right thing to do. I had a bad week against Seattle. Is it right to cast me out? Everybody has a bad week. It's how you respond to those bad weeks. …

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