Tyrann Mathieu feels great, is focused on rehab and not contract

Mar 14, 2016, 12:05 PM | Updated: 12:08 pm

Tyrann Mathieu chats with the media at the Arians Family Foundation Golf Classic. (Photo by Craig G...

Tyrann Mathieu chats with the media at the Arians Family Foundation Golf Classic. (Photo by Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports)

(Photo by Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On March 2 Tyrann Mathieu tweeted out a video of him running on a treadmill.

According to the tweet, it was “Day 1” for him, as he took a step forward in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered on Dec. 20.

About two weeks later, Mathieu walked down the red carpet at the Arians Family Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic without any assistance from crutches or a brace, and also without any noticeable limp.

“I feel great,” Mathieu said. “I’m moving around well. I couldn’t be more happier with where I’m at right now.”

The 23-year-old Mathieu was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate before suffering the injury late in Arizona’s NFC West-clinching victory over the Philadelphia Eagles while, incidentally, returning an interception.

In 14 games, he tallied 89 total tackles — 11 for loss — with one sack, five interceptions and 16 passes defensed.

This is the second major knee injury the former third-round pick has had to recover from in just three professional seasons, but this process does not compare to what Mathieu went through as he rehabbed from a torn ACL and LCL suffered late in the 2013 season.

“It’s so much easier,” he said. “I’m already running, I’m already moving around and jumping around, kind of,” he said. “The last time around, I was pretty much immobile for so long and this time I pretty much hit the ground running.”

Mathieu said the next step for him is just to continue to rehab, “and hopefully put a helmet on at some point in the next couple months and kind of do a drill or two.”

That’s his goal, anyway, though he said there is no target date in mind for his return as he does not want to rush back.

When he does return, however, Mathieu expects to pick up right where he left off. Though there are certainly detractors and people who think he won’t ever be the same, that doubt only helps to fuel his resolve.

“I’ve always loved a challenge,” he said. “My life has always been challenging, and to be honest I really wouldn’t want it any other way.”

He tweeted as much on Monday.

The Cardinals seem to have little doubt Mathieu will return and continue his rise as one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive players. Shortly after the season ended general manager Steve Keim proclaimed extending Mathieu’s contract was one of his primary goals this offseason, and Sunday morning head coach Bruce Arians said the secondary will be built around Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.

As for that contract extension, though, Mathieu, who no doubt has noticed the salaries handed out to this year’s crop of free agents, remains unconcerned.

“My only focus right now is to continue to rehab and to really dominate next football season,” he said. “And a contract will take care of itself.”

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