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Tyrann Mathieu, Da'Rick Rogers respond well to character questions

INDIANAPOLIS -- To a degree, Tyrann Mathieu and Da'Rick Rogers owe Manti Te'o a debt of gratitude. Without the Te'o sideshow dominating a good bit of the attention this weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine, Mathieu and Rogers may have been two of the poster children in this year's pre-draft character-issue debate.

They are a matched pair in some ways: Two talented but troubled former SEC play-making stars who took different paths due to football banishment last season, but wound up here in Indianapolis all the same. Now they're hoping to convince league scouts that they've changed, matured and can be trusted to seize the NFL opportunity that once looked to be a given.

Mathieu, the former LSU cornerback of popular "Honey Badger'' fame and 2011 Heisman hopes, was dismissed from the Tigers last August due to substance abuse issues that prompted a month-long stay in drug rehabilitation. He sat out the 2012 season, but re-enrolled at LSU for the fall semester, only to be arrested on a marijuana possession charge in late October. Never considered an elite NFL prospect to begin with, Mathieu is projected to last at least until the fourth round, but he's at the combine trying to resurrect his football fortunes.

Rogers has his own tale of taking a circuitous path to this year's combine. The former University of Tennessee receiver was given an indefinite suspension by the Vols after failing a third drug test for marijuana. Rather than sit out in 2012, Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech, an FCS division school where he at times hung up ridiculous numbers against that level of competition (18 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns against Southeast Missouri State). Rogers was supposed to be the SEC's top returning receiver in 2012 after his 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns for the Vols in 2011, and Mathieu was the SEC's Defensive Player of the year that same season. But now they're just two more hopefuls among the 330-plus players trying to stand out in Indianapolis.

Mathieu spoke Sunday about the challenge he faces in rebuilding his career after a year away from the game, knowing that he has more questions to answer off the field than on it.

VIDEO: Mathieu speaks to the media about mistakes

"I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now, but I am asking for them to give me an opportunity to play the game again,'' he said, meeting the media at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It's really given me a different outlook on life and really being the right kind of person. I hold myself accountable for ev