Just three weeks into training camp, the Tyrann Mathieu bandwagon appears to have already reached full capacity.
Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle David Carter was a guest on Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Wednesday, and the third-year pro out of UCLA could barely contain his excitement when talking about the third-round pick.
“I like that guy,” Carter said of Mathieu. “He’s proven to the team that he’s here to play. He’s here to be a big part of this team. He’s setting an example.”
Whether in pads at an afternoon practice or in the team’s 17-0 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers, that example has been set in a big way.
In a rather short period of time, the 2011 All-American has already gained a widespread reputation for his ball-hawking skills and keen awareness in the secondary.
But when speaking about Mathieu, who had one sack and a 24-yard punt return in his NFL debut last Friday, Carter said he’s been taken aback by the 21-year-old’s willingness to make the most of his first — and likely only — opportunity in the NFL.
“I know he had a bad past in college, but he’s definitely turning himself around,” said Carter. “I’m impressed with him, he’s motivated me to do more.”
That past is well-documented.
After being a Heisman Trophy candidate in 2011, Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football program by head coach Les Miles last season due to multiple drug-related incidents.
But as the Cardinals defensive tackle noted, those incidents seem to be in the past for the team’s budding defensive playmaker.
From what Carter’s seen so far in training camp, the negativity surrounding those prior transgressions and the Cardinals’ subsequent decision to select him in the 2013 NFL Draft, has only fueled Mathieu even more to prove he belongs.
“It’s hard, because you’ve got the press talking bad about you, you got everybody taking bets on whether you’re going to fail,” said Carter. “But this kid is coming out here and making everybody eat their words and stick their foot in their mouth.”
Mathieu will make his first start at free safety when the Cardinals host the Dallas Cowboys at University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday afternoon.