By choosing to wear jersey number 27, former University of Pittsburgh cornerback Damarri Mathis stands out on the Denver Broncos' defense. Such is the gravity of the digits that seeing them on a defensive back in orange and blue immediately demands a high level of play and a fierce commitment to the cause.
Mathis, a fourth-round rookie, had to wait a little longer to sign his first professional contract, with pen being put to paper on Thursday. Afterward, the elated cover man explained to Phil Milani of Broncos TV how he was settling into life as a Bronco and soaking in the advice of veterans comprising the star-studded secondary.
“Just like you know, they’ve played a lot of ball, so they’ve got a lot of experience," Mathis told Milani. "Just always asking questions, being able to be coachable, and just being able to learn as much as I can. I feel like they’ve got a lot of knowledge, played a lot of football, so there is a lot of stuff I can build of those guys.”
Having veterans to guide him through the rookie rollercoaster is a bonus for the 23-year-old, and given the sheer competition he is up against for a spot on the team, it makes learning on the job extraordinarily crucial.
Mathis has already popped on behind-the-scenes footage of offseason practice, getting some one-on-one advice from secondary coach Christian Parker. It would appear it’s working, his proverbial sword sharpened by franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.
Making the adjustment to the professional ranks can be overwhelming at first, and seeing Wilson up close dawned on Mathis that he'd arrived in the NFL.
“I would say just seeing Russell Wilson, I was like, 'Dang I’m finally here,'” Mathis revealed. “I’m not going to lie, when we came here for a rookie minicamp, that’s when I was looking around, I was just like, ‘Whoa, OK, it’s time to go’, but when they came back it was fun competing with those guys.”
Early returns are encouraging for Mathis, even though he might be a tad overwhelmed by things, especially when he first saw No. 3. Most importantly, though, he’s proving more than capable of making a run at a coveted roster spot on the 2022 roster.