GLENDALE — Fans who have attended any of the open practices of the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in the last week have seen the defense get it hands on a lot of passes, both at the line of scrimmage and down the field.
One of the main agitators on defense in the first week has been rookie third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu. The LSU product had two interceptions during Thursday’s practice in Tempe and continued to get his hands on balls Friday.
“Yeah, it was definitely exciting to get some turnovers,” he said. “Any time you get turnovers, you put your team in position to score and that usually turns into a win.”
Mathieu is also getting the attention of those on offense — most notably quarterback Carson Palmer.
“Tyrann is getting his hands on a lot of balls,” Palmer said Friday. “He’s so quick and explosive in and out of breaks and reading concepts and knowing coverages and weaknesses in where we’re trying to throw the ball.”
Mathieu believes a lot of that has to do with his ever-growing comfort level. After a full year away from the game, it’s all coming back to the 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist.
“I think the game is definitely slowing down for me,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to get used to the shoulder pads and just running around out there just really trying to have some fun. It’s camp, sometimes it’s redundant so you just want to go out here and have some fun when you get on the field.”
But it wasn’t all fun for Mathieu on Friday. Former college teammate and fellow defensive back Patrick Peterson lined up on offense and beat Mathieu deep on a long pass from Palmer.
“I think he’s a little faster than me,” Mathieu admitted with a smile. “He got me on that one, so hopefully (Saturday) I’ll get him back.”
The Cardinals will hold their Red-White scrimmage Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. The session is open to the public and gets underway at 2:00 p.m.