Before his first NFL preseason game last Friday, Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals took to Twitter to let his feelings known.
So grateful that the @AZCardinals took this chance on me….
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) August 9, 2013
The defensive back, who just a year ago was suspended and then kicked off the LSU football team for his off-field behavior, made the most of his opportunity against the Green Bay Packers.
Mathieu played 38 defensive snaps and 11 on special teams, and made an impact in both phases. The former Heisman Trophy finalist had two tackles, including a sack, broke up a pass and returned two punts for 26 yards, including a 24-yarder.
After Mathieu’s debut, the experts sounded off.
Herman Edwards, who spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back and eight more as a head coach, liked what he saw from number 32 Friday and really likes what the Cardinals are building in their secondary.
“He is a difference maker,” Edwards said on Monday. “They have two difference makers in the back end of their secondary now — Patrick Peterson and Mathieu.
“These are guys that actually can catch the football. Now the danger of this, what comes when guys can catch in the back end of the secondary, they can run off to score.”
That’s exactly what the Cardinals are counting on from a player who wreaked havoc on the SEC as a sophomore in 2011 when he forced six fumbles, recovered four, had two interceptions and found the end zone four times.
“The guy has great instincts, something you can not coach,” Edwards said. “This is what you like about this young man. He’s going to make a lot of big plays, especially if they use him as a slot player — in other words, a nickel back.”