ESPN: Tyrann Mathieu has most to prove for the Cardinals

May 30, 2017, 12:10 PM

DB Tyrann Mathieu goes through a drill during an OTA practice May 16. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona ...

DB Tyrann Mathieu goes through a drill during an OTA practice May 16. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

After missing the 2015 postseason with an ACL tear and missing six games last season with a shoulder injury, Cardinals’ DB Tyrann Mathieu has not been able to stay on the field in his young NFL career.

This is why Josh Weinfuss of ESPN puts Mathieu as the Cardinal with the most to prove in 2017.

There’s no questioning Mathieu’s ability; it’s his health that’s a concern. If Mathieu stays healthy, he’s one of the top defenders in the NFL. But lately that has been a big if. He has finished three of his four seasons on injured reserve, including twice because of major knee injuries. He needs to stay healthy in 2017 to prove that he isn’t injury-prone — and to reward the Cardinals for investing big dollars in his extension.

In his four NFL seasons, Mathieu’s success has been shadowed by his injuries — flashing his potential in spurts before being sidelined — most noticeably in his most successful season, 2015.

In that season, he set career highs in games (14), tackles (80), interceptions (5) and passes defended (17).

His All-Pro 2015 campaign earned him a five-year $62.5 million contract — another reason, as Weinfuss points out, that Mathieu needs to prove himself in 2017.

The Cardinals can’t get out of his contact until 2020, and a bounce back season from Mathieu would be a reward for the Cardinals’ 2016 extension they gave him.

When he’s at his best, the “honey badger” lives up to his nickname, flying around the field and making plays. Mathieu said he is stronger and faster than he’s ever been, which is why he could stay healthy for the entirety of the 2017 season.

“I just have to take really good care of it,” Mathieu told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in March. “But I also have to be conscious and understand how my body works.”

Arizona Cardinals

Hjalte Froholdt...

Haboob Blog

Football or France? Hjalte Froholdt’s childhood aspirations involved thievery

We all have big aspirations as kids. But Cardinals OL Hjalte Froholdt's dream job growing up might have taken the cake for the wildest.

18 hours ago

TAMPA, FL - AUG 06: Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Kyler McMichael (37) runs drills during the Tam...

Wills Rice

Cardinals claim corner Kyler McMichael off waivers from Bills

The Cardinals announced the team claimed CB Kyler McMichael off waivers from the Bills and released LB Marvin Pierre in a corresponding move.

18 hours ago

(L-R) D.J. Humphries #74 and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals run onto the field before the...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals OL D.J. Humphries closer with QB Kyler Murray through injury

While D.J. Humphries didn't have to learn how to bounce back from an injury like his, he did learn something new about his starting QB.

18 hours ago

Dalvin Cook...

Arizona Sports

Reports: Vikings planning to release starting RB Dalvin Cook

The Minnesota Vikings are expected to release starting running back Dalvin Cook this week, per multiple reports.

18 hours ago

Hollywood Brown...

Tyler Drake

Hollywood Brown determined to be ‘the guy’ for Arizona Cardinals

Hollywood Brown's mentality hasn't changed despite the switch in the Cardinals wide receivers room this offseason.

18 hours ago

DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals vs. Titans...

Arizona Sports

Titans reportedly hosting former Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins on free-agent visit

Former Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins is visiting the Tennessee Titans for a free-agent visit this coming Sunday, reports Tom Pelissero.

2 days ago

ESPN: Tyrann Mathieu has most to prove for the Cardinals