“You have to pick up the slack, and you have to prepare as if he’s not going to play,” Mathis said Monday night. “I truly believe he’s going to be on the field — nothing is gonna keep him out of this game — but you have to prepare and be on top of all the details.
“If he doesn’t play, it doesn’t put any more pressure on you. You just know that you’re going to get a little bit more attention (from extra blockers) than you would if he’s in there. You got to stay on your game and can’t relax and rely on him being in there.”
Mathis and Freeney have been as formidable as any pair of ends this decade, and complement one another well. Freeney is more flashy, more gregarious, more at home in the spotlight. Mathis, though highly impactful, is content to be the less-talked-about member of the duo, the Robin to Freeney’s Batman, per se.
“Personally, I’m not a guy who likes a lot of attention, so it doesn’t bother me,” Mathis said. “He knows how to handle being in the limelight like that a lot better than I can. It doesn’t bother me at all. You like to be recognized for what you’ve accomplished, but I feel like I’m getting my much due.”
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