Young Lions lucky to have veterans like Rashean Mathis

Posted Jul 16, 2015

The Lions are benefiting from the 'no egos' attitude cornerback Rashean Mathis brings to the meeting room.

When it comes to starting and playing in the Detroit Lions’ secondary, Rashean Mathis says there’s no place for egos in their meeting room.

“We’re a team,” he said this offseason. “I’ll teach you everything that I know, and if your talent is better than mine, then you’re on the field and I’m your supporting cast. Regardless of who plays, we need to be the best we can be.”

Rashean MathisCB Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay (Photo: Detroit Lions)

It’s an attitude Mathis has lived by ever since arriving in Detroit in 2013, and the Lions’ young cornerbacks who have studied under him over that time are much better because of it.

“He’s tireless,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Mathis. “He’s a very effective teacher, outstanding performer, but there’s probably not a time where you see him standing over there and he’s not talking to one of those other defensive backs, whether it’s a safety and talking about a call back there, working out between the split of a receiver, or just talking to some of the younger corners about work habits and body position and technique and fundamentals. Yes, he’s one of those guys.”

Mathis has not only made an impact for the Lions on the field with good play over the last two years but is doing it off the field as well. Considering rookies Quandre Diggs and Alex Carter will be asked to contribute right away, having a veteran like Mathis, who is willing to teach young guys everything he knows, is invaluable to Caldwell and his coaching staff.

“I think that’s one of the most important things that you’ll see within teams that consistently are right in the thick of things,” Caldwell said. “Good teams do it that way. Two things have to happen. No. 1, you have to have veterans that are knowledgeable, veterans that can communicate properly, veterans that understand your system.

“Then the other thing is that you have to have guys that are willing to do it too. There are some veterans that are so afraid of keeping their position that they don’t talk to the younger guys, they don’t give them any ways because obviously it’s competitive.

“But our guys are more interested in winning and more interested in the greater mission than they are in their own personal accomplishments.”

Mathis isn’t the only veteran who does it. Third-year cornerback Darius Slay, who is a close pupil of Mathis’, recently said he sat down with veteran safety James Ihedigbo for a half hour in the locker room during OTAs and talked about taking the next step in his development.

Slay said Ihedigbo instilled a lot of confidence in him during that conversation, something he'll keep with him moving forward.

This roster is littered with veterans who have been willing to take young players under their wings and show them the ropes. In the end, they'll be a much better team for it.