TEMPE, Ariz. — Tyrann Mathieu did not want his offseason to begin just yet.
But now that it has arrived, he cannot wait to get it started.
“I’m excited about this offseason,” Mathieu said Sunday at the team’s Tempe practice facility, less than 24 hours after the Cardinals fell to the Panthers 27-16 in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs. “Obviously, I feel like this is my first official offseason. So I’m really looking forward to it, getting back healthy, really coming back in here in April, really just contributing and playing well.”
The 2014 campaign was not an easy one for Mathieu. Much of his time was spent rehabbing and recovering from the knee injury suffered late in the 2013 season. The mental aspect of his return, as well as the physical part, impacted his performance.
Then, when he finally seemed to be rounding into form, he suffered a broken thumb against Atlanta in late November. Mathieu went on to play in the Cardinals’ final two regular season games as well as Saturday against Carolina, registering 10 total tackles while wearing a bulky cast.
Mathieu said the thumb injury was “unfortunate,” but that he’s looking forward to getting healthy because “I know I can be really good.”
The 22-year-old finished the season with 37 total tackles, one interception and four passes defended. The season before, he amassed 68 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions, displaying the kind of athleticism and instincts that led people to believe he would be a star in the NFL.
With a productive handful of months, that could be as early as next year.
“Yeah,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said when asked if Mathieu needs the offseason to get healthy. “He’s got to get his left side rebuilt.”