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The news he wanted


DAYTONA BEACH, FL – He can't tell you why it's important that he practice next week, necessarily, just that it is.

So, even though Rashean Mathis has been ahead of schedule for months returning from a knee injury, and even though he anticipated good news, what he heard Monday during his visit with renowned orthopedist James Andrews still was a big moment.

Mathis, the Jaguars' 10-year cornerback, was cleared to participate in next week's mini-camp – this, less than seven months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

Maybe it was an expected day. But that didn't mean it wasn't a big one.

"That's the best thing," Mathis said Tuesday evening at the 2012 Jaguars Caravan stop in Daytona Beach, during which Mathis was honored as a former standout for Bethune-Cookman.

"I still haven't had a setback. Everything has always been positive. It's reassuring that the progression is still going."

Mathis, who said he is about 85 or 90 percent, said that he essentially plans to do whatever the coaches allow during mini-camp. He said he spoke with Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey briefly last week.

"He said, 'You're going to pass, right?'''

Mathis said the approach in mini-camp will be cautious.

"We still have a few months before the actual season starts, but he has cleared me to participate with the team," he said. "Whatever they want. I'm not pushing the envelope. I know this is not a pivotal time to be in there, but if I can be with my guys before we end it – that was the whole thing and the Lord has blessed me to do so."

Mathis said the mental boost of participating in a few mini-camp drills in the last offseason activities before training camp is important.

"It's just the feeling of being with your guys," Mathis said. "It's kind of unexplainable. (Middle linebacker) Paul (Posluszny) experienced it when he was able to get cleared (earlier this offseason after a shoulder injury). We talked about it.

"There's just nothing like being able to do some participation with your guys. It's a huge deal in the sports world."

Mathis said he did some jumps at the Andrews Institute, and that Andrews "yanked and pulled" on the knee before clearing him.

 "He said everything was looking great," Mathis said.

Mathis had been recovering at a rapid rate through the off-season, and had been working on the side in many Jaguars practices during the recent organized team activities that ended last Friday.

"I've been running, jumping, cutting – everything you do on a football field, I've been doing," he said. "But it's a different speed once you're going against another competitor. All of the things I've been doing, I've been doing it on my own – not on one with a receiver.

"That's a big difference. I know that and understand it."

While he knew his rehab was going well, he said being cleared by Andrews was reassuring.

"That's the whole thing," he said. "It's reassuring to go there and see Doc and see where you're at. You get comfortable with your own guys, so when you're in a different environment, it's a different situation.  To hear the doctor that actually operated on my knee say I was good is a good feeling."

Mathis said the issue now is to continue strengthening the knee and continuing to develop trust in the injured area.

"I trust the work I've put in, and once I get on the field I will trust that," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Mathis was honored by Bethune-Cookman for the 10th anniversary of the 2002 season in which he won the Buck Buchanan Award, symbolic of the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. He was presented with a replica of an anniversary banner that will hang in the Wildcats' stadium commemorating the season.

"It's always a humbling experience when someone recognizes something you've done," he said. "It's a great feeling."

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