TEMPE, Ariz. — Earlier in the week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said defensive back Tyrann Mathieu would not play in the regular season opener if he did not play in the preseason finale.
Mathieu did not play against San Diego Thursday night, so by that logic it would mean he will not be on the field on Sept. 8, right?
“He’s going to tackle somebody this week, that’s about it,” Arians said Friday when asked where he stands with regards to Mathieu and his prospects going forward.
Mathieu has not played in a game since tearing his ACL and LCL in early December, though he returned to practice late last week and has reported no setbacks since getting back on the field.
But there is a difference in being able to practice and being ready for a game — especially a regular season one — and up to this point he has not done enough to show he can be counted on when the games, well, count.
When asked earlier in the week, Mathieu said he’s not worried about his surgically-repaired knee as much as he is his grasp on the mental part of the game, making sure his eyes are in the right place and he’s not thinking too much about what he should be doing. He wants to just react and fly around the field, which is what the Cardinals will want to see before turning him loose.
Asked about his previous statement about Mathieu not laying Monday night if he didn’t play Thursday night — a statement Mathieu believed to be true — Arians backtracked some, once again pointing to wanting to see how Mathieu fares going forward.
“I wasn’t kidding,” the coach said of his no play Thursday, no play Monday stance. “We’ll see how he tackles, though.”