Rashean Mathis never dreamed he would play in the NFL for 13 years, but the cornerback is headed in that direction.
“There’s always a number that each person gives himself and mine definitely wasn’t 13,’’ Mathis said in a conference call on Thursday.
“Life happens, you get smarter, you get wiser and realize you didn’t know nearly as much as you thought when you first got into the league. I think my number was eight coming into the league because you think you have everything set. Once I got to six I thought eight wasn’t a realistic number. I thank God I’ve been fortunate to play as long as I have and impact some of the lives I’ve been able to impact.’’
Mathis, who will turn 35 in August, signed a $3.5 million two-year deal with the Lions on Wednesday. He has started 31 games at cornerback in the last two seasons with the Lions. He’s durable and solid.
His durability is no accident. He said he is lifting heavier on his legs.
“I know it sounds crazy being that I’m older and why would I lift heavier, but it’s worked and that’s something that I’ve always (done) to get me ready,’’ Mathis said. “Pounding my legs is something I do early so I maintain strength during the offseason. I do it during the season as well. I will stick to that routine, going on 13 years it has served me very well so I’m not going to stray away from it.’’
It’s unclear if he’ll start again on the outside opposite Darius Slay or move inside to nickel. He’s versatile enough to do both.
Much depends on if the Lions sign another free agent cornerback or pick one or two up in the draft.
“Anywhere to help the team, that’s always been my philosophy,’’ Mathis said. “I know I developed a certain skill set that can be versatile, I thank God for that, it’s probably a reason why I’ve stuck around for so long, I can retain a lot and I’ve been blessed with the skills to play different positions.
“It’s happened that I’ve been at corner for the last 11 and a half years, wherever I am I will do my best to help the team it doesn’t matter where it is,’’ Mathis said.
That attitude is one reason the Lions wanted him back.
“He had an outstanding season for us last year,’’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He did a great job in terms of getting himself ready to play, but he also did a great job in terms of helping all the other guys, the new guys in the secondary, especially Darius (Slay), in terms of getting better.
“That helps you as a coordinator. When you’re talking about stuff and trying to get things nailed down, as an older vet he can help you do that and bring the right questions. He’s like having an extra coach, so it’s good,’’ Austin added.