Jags' Mathis shows at camp
First-round draft pick Tyson Alualu, the 10th overall selection, missed the start of camp after failing to sign a contract. It's unclear how long Alualu will sit out -- only one top-10 pick has been signed -- but it marks the third consecutive year in which Jacksonville has endured a holdout with its top pick.
Mathis, meanwhile, was back at Jacksonville's stadium Thursday for the first time since minicamp in May. He sat out voluntary summer workouts, sending a message to team officials, but made it clear that he never planned to miss training camp.
"I want to finish my career here," Mathis said. "It has never been a secret. ... I still have great years left. To stay in Jacksonville is what I want long term."
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Mathis signed a five-year contract extension in August 2005 worth $25.5 million. The deal included $9.4 million guaranteed. He is scheduled to make $3.95 million this season and $4.45 million in 2011.
But with salaries on the rise for the league's top cornerbacks -- Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha signed a three-year contract last season worth $45.3 million, with $28.5 million guaranteed -- Mathis figured it was a good time to re-negotiate.
The Jaguars, though, don't feel the same way. They know Mathis can play, but they also would like to see him stay healthy for an entire season. Mathis has missed 10 games the last three seasons, including six last year because of a groin injury.
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Nonetheless, he feels he has played at the same level as he did when he made the Pro Bowl in 2006. He had eight interceptions that year. He's had eight since.
"You can't do anything when you're hurt," Mathis said. "But the games that I've played healthy I've performed. There's not too many out there that have performed like I have performed. There's some out there, but I know that when I'm out there healthy that I'm in a select group. I take pride in that. ... I know when I'm healthy that I can play football."
Mathis hopes being healthy and having a revamped defense will help him return to form -- and get another long-term deal. The Jaguars used their top draft picks on defensive linemen and traded for proven linebacker Kirk Morrison in an effort to improve the league's worst pass rush.
"It's a ton of difference," Mathis said. "Being last in that area of sacking the quarterback is never a good thing. The emphasis that we made on the defensive side of the ball, hopefully it pans out because we need it. We need it as a team to succeed."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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