Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette to revive rivalry

  • By Thomas Warren NFL.com
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When the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars square off Sunday, a battle for hometown bragging rights will be taking place between Tyrann Mathieu and Leonard Fournette.

"It's going to be pretty fun for me," Mathieu told Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website. "I come from the same neighborhood but I never had a chance to play with him. It was always, 'What if those two played against each other?'"

That day will come Sunday, so long as Fournette is healthy. The Jaguars first-round pick has been limited in practice all week with an ankle injury he's long dealt with, and that kept him out Week 7 against the Colts.

The rivalry is not a bitter one, as the two New Orleans natives are admittedly close friends. One could even say the elder Mathieu -- by three years -- set the football path that the younger Fournette followed to the NFL. They're both graduates of St. Augustine High School in the city's Seventh Ward, and they each enjoyed college football superstardom at LSU before entering the pro ranks.

"When Tyrann made it, he kind of made it a reality for everybody that's from New Orleans to make it to the league," Fournette told the Cardinals' official website before the draft.

It's not likely their friendship will prevent the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Fournette from lowering his shoulder on the 5-foot-9, 186-pound Mathieu given the chance.

The Honey Badger, on the flip side, plans to use their history to his advantage.

"I'm probably going to try and get in his head, but he's level-headed for the most part," Mathieu said. "He doesn't really get into it like that. But I know if I get under his skin, he's going to give me something back."

Fournette will look to help his Jaguars extend their winning streak to five games and create distance for themselves in the AFC South with the Titans sitting a game back. If that's going to happen, it'll likely be a busy day for Fournette who ranks third in the league in carries per game (21.9) and second in rushing yards per game (92.5).

Mathieu understands what his defense is in for.

"I know he'll give us his best shot and I know he'll get the ball 40 times. That's 40 times we've got to put our big-boy pads on."