Tyrann Mathieu is the Arizona Cardinal rookie garnering the most attention.
The team’s third-round pick, the former LSU Tiger and Heisman Trophy finalist has been making plays all over the field, and is even set to start Saturday’s preseason game in place of an injured Rashad Johnson.
However, Mathieu is hardly the only first-year player on the roster, and he’s not the only one who may make an impact, as first-round pick Jonathan Cooper is expected to start at left guard and linebacker Kevin Minter will likely see considerable playing time at linebacker. But it is running back Stepfan Taylor who earned an NFL.com nod as a rookie ready to surprise this season.
Wrote Chris Wesseling:
The fifth-rounder out of Stanford arrived in the desert as an NFL-ready pass protector and route runner, two qualities often lacking in rookie tailbacks. With a snakebitten Ryan Williams facing the roster guillotine, Taylor could enter the season behind only Rashard Mendenhall on the depth chart. Considering Mendenhall’s durability issues, Taylor might be thrust into the featured back role before the end of the season.
Taylor finished college as Stanford’s all-time leading rusher, and ran for 1,530 yards with 13 touchdowns as a senior. He tallied 64 yards on 20 carries in last Friday’s preseason opener, and along with Alfonso Smith has been the only Cardinals running back not to miss time with injury since camp began.