Rashean Mathis remains confident better days are ahead for the Jaguars, and soon.
The Jaguars' veteran cornerback said he's just sorry he's not going to be part of it – at least not for the remainder of this season.
"Any time you're not able to help your team go on this run we're about to go on, it's hard," Mathis said Thursday afternoon as the Jaguars (3-6) prepared to play the Cleveland Browns (3-6) at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Mathis on Thursday spoke to the media as a group for the first time since sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sunday against the Colts.
The Jaguars placed him on injured reserve the following day.
The move to IR ended his season, and Mathis said he is scheduled to have surgery November 28, but he said not being on the field won't end his role with the Jaguars this season.
"I've been here every day," Mathis said. "After (surgery), it will hinder me in the meeting process, but you miss it. You don't know how much you'll miss it until you're away from it.
"Now, I've got to be a coach on the sideline. That's where I'm at right now."
Mathis, a Pro Bowl selection in 2006, started the first nine games of the season, and through nine games he led the Jaguars in passes defensed with 12. If the first half of the season represented the best football Mathis had played in several seasons, he said there was reason.
"I was healthy," he said. "Being healthy is a good thing. This was the first year in the last two years my body was 100 percent, and I was able to perform like it. Now, it's an ACL, and the mental is the main thing. I'm good mentally going in that this is just another bump in the road.
"I'm only going to be stronger afterward."
Mathis, who never had sustained a torn ACL, said he has spoken extensively with teammates such as defensive end Aaron Kampman, quarterback Luke McCown and fullback Greg Jones who previously have returned from torn ACLs.
"I've seen more guys who come back stronger than don't," Mathis said. "Being my body has always taken injury well, I'm smiling right now, because my knee could actually be stronger than it was."
While Mathis said he has no doubt he will return from the ACL, there is doubt about his future with the Jaguars. The nine-year veteran is in the last year of his contract, though that's an issue about which he said he has neither time nor energy to worry for now.
"There's a lot more stuff on my mind than that," he said. "If it's meant to be, it will be. The things I can control, I'll control. That's my rehab and getting back healthy. The things I can't control, trying to control will drive me insane."
Mathis, a Jacksonville native who played at Englewood High School, said if circumstances are equal moving forward, he would prefer to remain with the Jaguars.
"No question," he said. "That's never been a question. Being that I'm coming back healthy, I definitely would rather play here than anywhere else. I'm not a money-driven guy and prayerfully, I never will be, but I would rather be here."
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton did not participate in practice for a second consecutive day because of an ankle injury. He said on Wednesday he likely will not play Sunday.
*Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and running back Maurice Jones-Drew practiced full after being limited Wednesday for non-injury reasons, and fullback Greg Jones practiced full after missing Wednesday for non-injury reasons.
*Defensive ends Aaron Kampman (hamstring) and John Chick (abdomen) worked on a limited basis after missing practice Wednesday, and fullback Brock Bolen (calf) and wide receiver Brian Robiskie (hamstring) remained limited a second consecutive day. Rookie wide receiver Cecil Shorts worked full after being limited with a hamstring Wednesday.
*Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he believes the Jaguars' 32nd-ranked offense is in the process of improving. "We're obviously not where we want to be or where we need to be, but we're seeing progress and improvement in practice," he said. "Not always as fast as you want it to be in the real games, but it's going to be a work in progress. We're going to break out at some point here. We are doing a good job in the run game, but we're still searching to find it in the pass game." The Jaguars rank 11th in the NFL in rushing and 32nd in passing.
*Koetter also discussed the development of rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the NFL's lowest-rated passer in several categories, including average gain and passer rating. "I just don't see how anyone could put a timetable on that," Koetter said. "I think there are obviously rookies that are off to faster starts. You look at any quarterback in the league; right now the hot talk is how easy Aaron Rodgers is making everything look. Well okay, Aaron Rodgers sat behind [Brett] Favre for three years. Steve Young and Troy Aikman were one-win quarterbacks, I think, in their rookie seasons. There is no way to put a timetable on it. Blaine is working at it and that's all you can ask right now." Koetter also said he didn't see Gabbert, who has completed 47.9 percent of his passes, as being a quarterback with accuracy issues. "I think just in general those windows you're throwing in in college are a lot different, a lot bigger," Koetter said. "Unless you're playing in the SEC where you're seeing a few NFL-caliber defenses, everybody is just so much faster. I don't think Blaine has accuracy issues although he has not been as accurate as he needs to be. I don't think you can take a guy after this few of reps and say he doesn't have accuracy. I do think he has accuracy."
*Wide receiver Jarett Dillard, who moved into a backup role after a two-reception, one-touchdown game against Indianapolis, said catching his first career touchdown Sunday, "gives you a lot of confidence, but the receiving corps, we make plays every day in practice. When it happens on Sunday, it's not a big ordeal for us. The plays we make during the week, we just look to make the same plays on Sunday." Dillard said developing timing with Gabbert has been a process, but he said it's one that is progressing with each week. "Blaine, coming in, was used to his receivers in college," he said. "Now, he's getting used to a new corps of receivers. It's coming along. He's playing well and he's adjusting to his receivers as well."
*C.J. Mosley is expected to make a second consecutive start at defensive tackle Sunday in place of Terrance Knighton, who told reporters Wednesday he expects to miss a second consecutive game with an ankle injury. Mosley was credited with one tackle against Indianapolis Sunday, and the Jaguars held the Colts to 212 total yards. "One of my goals was just to earn the trust of my teammates and from my coaches to have me in there," Mosley said. "This is an opportunity like everything else. I just don't want to let anyone down."