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Updated May 29, 2013 - 11:03 am

Cards' Tyrann Mathieu learning ‘to be more vocal'

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

Rookies are supposed to be seen, not heard.

That's not the case for Cardinals third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu.

He needs to be both seen and heard.

The Cardinals are asking the 21-year-old to make the transition from cornerback, where he started ten games at LSU, to free safety. He's also spending time at nickelback.

"Cornerback is pretty simple, just cover the guy in front of you," Mathieu said after a recent OTA practice. "But the nickel and the free safety, that kind of is when your head goes to spinning: What am I supposed to do? You've got to get those two things down pat first."

The position change is not entirely foreign to the 2011 National Defensive Player of the Year. Of his 14 starts in college, Mathieu made three starts at nickelback and one at free safety.

"He's adapted extremely well," head coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a guy you only have to tell once and he's got it."

The biggest difference between cornerback and free safety, according to Mathieu, is verbal.

"I have to be vocal," he said. "I'm one of those guys who, I don't really say too much. I talk a lot of trash sometimes, but other than that, I'm not the one making the checks. I think I'm in position to make the checks, so I've got to be more vocal."

Mathieu said he's leaning on veterans Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson for advice.

"Those guys definitely are there for me," Mathieu said.

And now with his contract completed, he can put all his focus and energy towards learning the playbook.

"I'm enjoying it," said Mathieu. "I think it's a challenge, with me having to be more vocal. It's still football and it's still a DB (defensive back) position.

"I'm just so happy to be back out here (after sitting out the entire 2012 football season). For me, it's just going out there, just playing football, understanding my responsibility, relaying it to my teammates and just go to the ball."

About the Author

School: Syracuse University, '96

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: December 1, 1999

Favorite sports memory: Game 7, 2001 World Series

Least-favorite sports memory: Game 1, 1988 World Series

Favorite all-time athlete(s): Larry Bird, Don Mattingly

Favorite sports movies: Hoosiers, Field of Dreams


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