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##### Cox has perfect role model
Rookie cornerback Derek Cox doesn't need to look far to find someone to chat with about the transition from small college football to the NFL. Seated directly across from Cox's locker, Rashean Mathis is entering his seventh season in the NFL after being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft from Bethune-Cookman.
Mathis, the only cornerback in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl, entered the NFL with a reputation of a ball-hawk after intercepting 31 passes in college. It didn't take him long to make his mark as a pro as he owns the Jaguars record with 25 career interceptions.
Cox is hoping to have the same impact after being taken in the third round following three seasons as a starter for at William & Mary. The Jaguars traded up to select Cox and made him the second-highest drafted player in the school's history, behind current NFL safety Darren Sharper.
"I don't think the transition is as most people think," Mathis said. "It's a transition on any level when you change from one level to the next level. It's not a different transition that I had to make compared to the guy from University of Florida or USC had to make. The skill level you possess inside is your skill level, so either you can compete or you can't."
Mathis remembers his first practices as a rookie and he knew right away where he needed to improve.
"The guy from Michigan might be a little more technique-sound and that is one of the main things," Mathis said. "I was a little raw and wasn't as technique-sound as some of the other guys. That is the biggest thing."
Cox made sure to introduce himself to Mathis when he came for his pre-draft visit to Jacksonville. Mathis was happy when he saw the Jaguars selection on draft day.
"He is a down to earth guy, a cool, collected guy and the kind of guy we want on this team," Mathis said. "He doesn't bring any trouble with him. It was a good grab to get him when we did. He looks like he can pick up the playbook and know what he's doing. He is willing to learn. He's a competitor. He finishes plays, he doesn't give up on anything and that is the type of hunger you need especially playing on an island at the corner position. You need that hunger and attitude where any ball is yours, and that is the attitude he has."
Cox will battle for playing time at cornerback with Scott Starks, Brian Witherspoon, William James and a host of other young players. Brian Williams has the ability to play both safety and cornerback, but Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has preached getting the best players on the field.
"He's a good young player," Del Rio said of Cox. "We felt good coming out of mini-camp. I wouldn't get carried away with anything right now other than there's a certain amount of work and commitment that you have to have to have a chance, and we're getting that. We understand we have an awful lot to do, but without that commitment, working at it, everybody being here buying in and doing their part, you have no chance, and I feel like we're getting that. With Derek and all the rest of the young guys, we'll bring them along but there's a lot to be done."
##### Getting the work done
Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio is balancing the importance of getting on-field work done in the offseason but also making sure his players are fresh for the start of training camp. Del Rio will use 12 of the allotted 14 practice days with the last OTA scheduled for June 18.
"It's an important time," Del Rio said. "We want to try to strike that balance of doing enough to learn our system and at the same time have enough time to really have an offseason where the guys get a little bit of a break before we go for real."
Del Rio said the emphasis in the offseason will be on setting the tone for what is expected and also getting the younger players ready to play.
"Really right now we're establishing our foundation for the year, and that's why it's so important to have everybody here buying into the whole concept of team first, unselfish play, giving it up for each other," Del Rio said. "And then learning the system, what we're going to do X and O-wise. But most important for me is really to establish what type of team we're going to be, what type of commitment you're going to make to each other, and that's where we're starting. And then obviously system-wise, we have some things we want to do offensively, defensively and special teams and we'll work on that."
Landri continues to monitor weight
##### Learning from the coach
Head coach Jack Del Rio had the second-longest playing career among the league's nine current head coaches who played in the NFL. Del Rio played linebacker for New Orleans (1985-86), Kansas City (1987-88), Dallas (1989-91) and Minnesota (1992-95) before entering the coaching ranks.
Del Rio is taking on a more active role with the defense in 2009 but that is nothing new for the club's linebackers. They are used to seeing him around and they wouldn't want it any other way.
"Being he was a linebacker, he always has certain things he wants to tell us or certain things that he sees being that he hasn't been out of the league and playing that long," linebacker Clint Ingram said. "I mean it really hasn't been too long since he's been playing so there's a lot of stuff we see and a lot of stuff that we do out there on the field, we can tell him and he can relate to us."
Ingram notices the difference Del Rio's involvement has had with the rest of the defense.
"Naturally when you have the head coach in and he's right there over your back and he's looking at your turn and paying attention to the close details, the way you pay attention is a lot more…you're going to be a lot more tuned in. I mean you have the head coach right there beside you," Ingram said.
##### The last word
"This is year seven for me. It's a long season, a long haul. You have to understand it and don't abuse your body. Know what you need to do yourself to get your body ready physically. That is the main thing and that is where I'm at in my stage of my career. Know what you need to do and not overdo it but do enough."
Rashean Mathis on his preparation for the upcoming season