ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Rashean Mathis figured this day might eventually come. When Jacksonville released him following the 2012 season and he had to leave home to continue his NFL career, there was always the chance he would face his former team.
That happens Friday.
It is, though, a little bit easier for Mathis than he might have initially thought. It’s a preseason game. It is in Detroit instead of Jacksonville, where he makes his offseason home. Also, the majority of the Jaguars roster has flipped since the 2012 season, including the coaching staff and general manager.
Even the owner, Shahid Khan, was only in his first season during Mathis’ last with Jacksonville.
“As of now, it feels like another game,” Mathis said. “I thought about it a little but the emotions are not there. Come game time, I might feel something a little different, but right now, it feels like another football game.”
There was a point, though, where Mathis thought he might be in Jacksonville for the entirety of his career. He grew up in the city. He played 10 years with the Jaguars, including a 2006 Pro Bowl appearance.
And as he reached past his first contract with the team, sure, he thought he may play for his hometown squad until he retired.
“Especially later in my career, definitely,” Mathis said. “Approaching Year 8, Year 9, I thought that. But I always knew it was a possibility (I’d be released). And I knew I was a minority, I wasn’t the majority.
“Not too many people stayed on one team for 10 years. I knew it was a possibility.”
When Jacksonville released Mathis, he said he wasn’t angry or mad. He understood the situation. New coach. New management. Questions about his health. His age. The team’s play overall.
He had lived this situation before and survived to stay in Jacksonville then, but not after 2012.
This is how Mathis ended up in Detroit, first signing with the Lions during training camp last season. Then he proved he was still healthy and could still contribute, becoming Detroit’s top cornerback for the majority of the 2013 season.
Now he enters 2014 as a starter again, in a position for the 33-year-old to start the last portion of his career against a familiar team in a situation where his family and friends can watch him on TV -- some, perhaps, for the first time since he left Florida.
And now, a look at Lions news from around the Interwebs:
Michael Williams continues his transition to tackle. Players do not want to fight Ndamukong Suh. Ten(ish) Questions With...safety Jerome Couplin. Nick Fairley ranked the No. 64 defensive player in the NFL. Reggie Bush will donate money for every touchdown he scores this season. Rodney Austin grew up near Ferguson, Missouri and is disheartened by what he sees there now.
Can Mikel Leshoure find a role with Detroit? That's what Carlos Monarrez from the Detroit Free Press asks.
Former Michigan star Denard Robinson returns to Detroit out of the spotlight with Jacksonville, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
Nevin Lawson trying to adjust to new NFL rules, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.
A college basketball coach in need of a kidney. A young woman in need of a heart. How donors saved both of their lives in a connection through sports at a small university. Read this story from Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports.
Andrew Brandt of The MMQB says the NFL needs a developmental league.
This is a great story on former Kentucky (and NFL) quarterback Jared Lorenzen from Tommy Tomlinson in ESPN The Magazine.