NOTEBOOK: Rashean Mathis a good addition for Lions

Posted Sep 20, 2013

Veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis has been a good addition and a needed veteran presence for Detroit Lions so far this season

Rashean Mathis has been head coach Jim Schwartz's ace in the hole these first two weeks.

The veteran Mathis has been Schwartz's go-to man from the "bullpen" through the first two games of the season and has played well in those situations.

Mathis, 33, played 20 snaps -- or 36 percent of the defensive plays -- in a Week 1 win over Minnesota. His number of snaps jumped to 50 (70 percent) in Arizona last week.

"Getting Rashean really helped in a lot of different ways," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Friday.

"He can play in about three spots back there, he is really bright, he is one of the veterans. He's like (former cornerback) James Hasty, I got him at (age) 32 in the Kansas City and Rashean is like that. He is really a heady football player, it's helped the young guys."

Mathis has seven tackles and defended two passes in two games. He's played so well early on it's been hard for coaches to keep him off the field. Defensive coaches have used him these first two weeks to spell rookie starter Darius Slay in spots.

"It's a situation I'm not used to, but like you said, I'm a veteran guy and when I'm at work I work," Mathis said after Friday's practice about his unique playing arrangement the first two weeks. "I know my number can get called at any time and the Lord has blessed me with the tools and talents to do so."

Mathis has come and made plays and has been good with younger players like Slay and Bill Bentley.

After Bentley gave up a pass interference penalty late in last week's game that led to the winning score for the Cardinals, Mathis spent several minutes at Bentley's locker after the game with his arm around the second-year corner as the two talked.

"I'm here to make plays. I'm here to help this team," Mathis said. "Whatever role that is. We have pieces of the puzzle that are still getting fit in, and once their fitted, we're going to win a lot of games."


One of the big weapons in the Washington arsenal on offense is the stretch run plays on the edges.

The Redskins offensive line is smaller and more athletic than most and they can all run. Running back Alfred Morris is a one-cut back, whose running style fits perfect with that kind of play call.

Robert Griffen III and Alfred MorrisQB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris (Photo: AP IMAGES)

"It does exactly what the term is. It stretches the defense," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "You typically defend the gaps along the defensive line. What happens is when they run sideways like that the gaps become bigger. You have to then defend the whole and not just one part of it."

The Redskins have run the ball 35 times in two games and only five have been run up the middle. They like to get out wide with the stretch stuff and have four runs of 11-plus yards when running wide left.

"Their offensive linemen don't run like offensive linemen," safety Louis Delmas said. "They run like tight ends. They are fast. They line up and they go sideways and run and we definitely have to respect that.

"It's basically going to be a track meet out there all around. It's going to be a fast game."


Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said after last week's win over Detroit that they knew certain pass plays would be successful going into the game because Lions' defensive backs play the man and not the ball.

Cunningham was asked about those comments on Friday and -- of course -- Cunningham had an opinion.

"Last time I checked, when you play man-to-man you play through the man," Cunningham said when asked about Palmer's comments. "If you see the ball, you're going to get beat. Now their point was we were looking at the man and not the ball.

"Well, whoever said it isn't very bright. To me that's how you play man-to-man. You strip the ball, you work through the keys, sometimes their eyes, sometimes their hands when they extend, that's how you play it. If somebody can show me something different I'd like to see it."

But Cunningham did admit that cornerbacks have to turn their head at some point.

"No question," he said. "The most important part on plays like that, especially young guys, you'll see them in one-on-one during the preseason and they make a great play and everybody cheers.

"Well they're not on top of their receivers, they are underneath it. That's what happens. It's not what you look at, it's where you end up position wise."

Mathis was asked Friday about Palmer's comments.

"They won the ballgame, so they can make statements like that," he said. "It was down to the last minute (when) they won the game.

"I tend to keep my mouth shut on stuff like that, but if they didn't win the game, nothing would have been said. Statements are made, and when you're in position to make statements, kudos to you."


• Defensive end Israel Idonije was fined $15,750 for his roughing the passer penalty last week on Palmer, according to reports.

• Safety Louis Delmas was also fined $5,250 for a wardrobe violation. Wrong socks.