Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Steelers Bring out Mathis' Best; Jaguars' Interception Leader Had Some of Top Games vs. Pittsburgh

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Steelers Bring out Mathis' Best; Jaguars' Interception Leader Had Some of Top Games vs. Pittsburgh

Article excerpt

Byline: Tania Ganguli

Every Wednesday, shortly after the Jaguars practice, there's a flurry of defensive backs scurrying out of the locker room trying not to be late for a meeting.

Coaches aren't involved with these meetings, instead cornerback Rashean Mathis leads it, sitting at the front of the room, clicking through plays as the Jaguars secondary reviews them together.

"It's more helpful because we're out there playing. The coaches are going to make the call, but at the same time we've gotta execute it," Jaguars safety Dawan Landry said. "... We did that in Baltimore. Ed Reed he ran the show. He's [Mathis] pretty much our Ed Reed here."

This weekend Mathis, the Jaguars' all-time interception leader, returns to Pittsburgh to face a team against which he's had his best games. In his NFL career, Mathis has returned three interceptions for touchdowns - all against the Steelers. Overall this season, his performance, with some exceptions, has mimicked that of the Jaguars much-improved defense.

"He's off to a good start," coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's staying healthy. We're being smart with our approach with him during the week and he's staying healthy and playing good football. Has it been perfect? No. But is it good? Yes. We've matched him up throughout the first few weeks when we could on the top receiver and he continues to answer that call for us."

Against the Carolina Panthers last month, Mathis followed Steve Smith around the field and reduced the receiver's effectiveness even before a rainstorm started. Smith, who made 14 catches for 334 yards in his first two games, only caught two passes for 15 yards against the Jaguars. Mathis had four pass breakups in that game and has six this season.

Last Sunday, Mathis shadowed A.J. Green, the Cincinnati Bengals' rookie receiver, most of the game with mixed results. …

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