Dealing Cards: Mathieu stands out in bad practice with plays, trash talk
GLENDALE, Ariz. – One player, and one player only, received praise from Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians after what he called “a very sluggish practice” with “way, way too many mental errors” on Monday.
And that player was safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“He had about three or four interceptions. He’s about the only guy I can think of that didn’t have a penalty,” Arians said, still upset from what he had seen during the course of a 2-hour, 15-minute practice on the grass field just south of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Mathieu described himself as “more of a morning guy anyway” so perhaps that’s why he excelled while several of his teammates struggled adjusting to the 8 a.m. start time.
Also, Mathieu was more vocal. He was talking trash, according to Arians.
“Yeah, he’s back. This was the first practice he really looked like himself,” Arians said.
That’s welcome news for the Cardinals and their fans.
Earlier in training camp, Mathieu, who appeared in a career-low 10 games last season because of a shoulder injury, spoke of easing his way back into the player he was in 2015.
“My confidence is slowing coming back. I’m moving around better and I think my teammates are challenging me. Pat (Peterson) is challenging me more, my coaches are challenging me to kind of take it to the next level,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve got great expectations for myself, so, like I said, I’m slowly but surely getting better.”
Later while speaking to reporters, Mathieu was asked whether he believed the quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, were challenging him, believing they had a better chance to complete a pass if they threw in No. 32’s direction.
Mathieu answered yes.
“I think it’s kind of getting disrespectful,” he said, laughing.
“I got a lot of balls this camp. I didn’t get my hands on a bunch the first couple of practices and I thought they think that, ‘Hey, maybe we can just throw this out (route) and he won’t be there; maybe we can just throw it over his head and he won’t make a play.’ Like I said, it’s a challenge for me. I embrace it, I accept it and, like I said, I’m talking a little bit more, I’m moving around better so it’s just my confidence is coming back. It’s fun. Today was fun for me.”
PLAYERS STRUGGLE WITH HEAT, HUMIDITY
To begin the second week of training camp, Arians decided to move practice outdoors to see how his team would react to 1) an early start time and 2) Mother Nature.
They didn’t react well.
“They weren’t ready to practice,” Arians said. “They were really ready to practice Saturday; with fans and all that, they were ready to roll. They had a great practice Saturday. Today, awful.”
The Cardinals had been practicing at 2 p.m., but as Arians pointed out, “We play at 10 o’clock in the morning our first two games. Obviously, 8 is earlier but you got to be ready to play when the whistle blows.”
The weather may also have been a factor. It was 91 degrees with 44-percent humidity under mostly cloudy skies.
Arians was so upset with the sloppiness of play on both sides of the ball that he had every single player run wind sprints to close out practice.
“Any time the head man is upset and mad and make you condition, you want to get out there and work hard. You don’t want to make the head man mad,” linebacker Markus Golden said. “I bet tomorrow will be way better than today.”
— Both cornerback Elie Bouka (ankle) and linebacker Jarvis Jones (quad) practiced, albeit on a limited basis. They participated in position drills only.
— Recently signed cornerback Tramon Williams did not arrive in time to practice. He’s expected to be on the field Tuesday when the Cardinals will once again work outside.
— During the open portion of practice, linebacker Karlos Dansby was not seen. He did not practice on Saturday either.
— During locker room availability, linebacker Gabe Martin, who had been receiving first-team reps in Dansby’s absence, was spotted with a walking boot on his left foot.
— Happy Birthday to owner Bill Bidwill, who turned 86 on Monday.
With Bouka and Jones returning to action, that left five players on the sidelines: cornerback Justin Bethel (hyperextended knee), wide receiver John Brown (quad), wide receiver Aaron Dobson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring). Dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Bethel should be back practicing next Monday, according to Arians.