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Cardinals’ Mathieu looking to lead revamped defense

Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu warms up prior to the team's NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LISTEN: Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals Defensive Back

The 2016 season wasn’t a fun one for Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu.

Struggling to return to his old form from 2015 and being named a team captain in 2016, Mathieu’s season was cut short again due to a shoulder injury.

“Last year was definitely a different learning experience for me,” Mathieu said on The Blitz with B-Train and Jurecki on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sport Station. “Not being the guy my teammates see me as and not being the guy I see me as.

“So I think I struggled with the leading on the field part and it’s hard to be vocal when you’re not making plays.”

In 10 games last season, Mathieu amassed 35 tackles and one interception for the Cardinals.

And with the 2017 season quickly approaching, Mathieu is excited to see how good the team can be compared to last season.

“We were a pretty good defense in the past, so I really enjoyed playing with all those guys,” Mathieu said, “but when you look at it we added a lot of speed.”

The Cardinals led the NFL in 2016 in forced fumbles (21), sacks (48) and were second in yards allowed per game (305.2).

The Cardinals have had a bit of a makeover defensively which included drafting Haason Reddick this year and replacing Calais Campbell on the line. They also added a number of players in the secondary to make up for the departures of Tony Jefferson and D.J Swearinger.

And while the ultimate goal is the hoisting up the Lombardi trophy, Mathieu also has some personal ones for the season.

“I have them. There’s enough expectations for me. I don’t want to add extra pressure, I want to play the game and have fun,” Mathieu said. “I don’t think I had any fun last year, signing the contract, coming off a big season, coming off injury as well. I want to focus on what I can control.”

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