Rehab, contract talks progressing well for Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu
Jun 8, 2016, 2:44 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2016, 11:21 am
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
TEMPE, Ariz. — Impressed by his team’s offseason work, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians canceled the last mini-camp practice, sending his players off on summer vacation a day early.
The seven-week break before the team reports for training camp likely will be anything but a break for safety Tyrann Mathieu.
One of the more popular Cardinals — if not thee most in many fans’ eyes — Mathieu figures to be busy between rehabbing from an ACL injury and work on a contract extension that may make him the highest-paid player at his position by the time he arrives at University of Phoenix Stadium on July 28.
The latter of which, though, appears to be the furthest thing from Mathieu’s mind.
“It’s not something I’m going to miss any sleep about,” he said Wednesday. “This is just moments in my life. I just try to enjoy them, and I don’t try to get too high or too low. But, if something was to happen, I’m sure it will happen.”
Mathieu is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
The two parties have discussed a new deal. Both sides want to get something done, but there has been no timetable set.
There’s also no timetable for when Mathieu will be on the field again.
He did not participate in any of the offseason work — organized team activities or the two-day mini-camp — and may be limited the first few days of training camp, according to Arians, who added defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (right ankle surgery) as “the two guys that will be the closest” in terms of being ready to go by training camp.
“We should come in (to camp) really, really healthy,” Arians said.
Mathieu is nearly six months removed from injuring his right knee at Philadelphia, costing him the remainder of the season.
Even with a shortened season, Mathieu was named a Pro Bowler for the first time and earned first-team All-Pro honors after totaling 89 tackles, a team-high 16 passes defensed, five interceptions (one touchdown), 11 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
It’s that kind of production that has the Cardinals excited about a long-term relationship with the 24-year-old safety.
“Did a lot of cutting, turning and running, so I mean I feel great,” Mathieu said, referring to where he is in the rehab process. “It’s more about me taking it slow.”
It’s the second time in three offseasons Mathieu is rehabbing an ACL tear. Back in 2013, as a rookie, he hurt his left knee. That plus a thumb injury limited his sophomore campaign.
Mathieu is determined to avoid history repeating itself, even if that means a later start to 2016.
“I really don’t have a timeline on when I’ll be back,” he said. “The most important thing is me coming back 100 percent. I think that’s most important.”
Despite the injury, Mathieu has made his presence felt here in the offseason, not just visually but vocally out on the field and in meeting rooms as he takes on a larger role within the team.
“I’m really just trying to soak in as much as I can from a coach’s perspective, from a team leader perspective, so it’s been fun although I haven’t been able to go out and actually play,” he said. “Just seeing the game from a different point of view this spring, I’ve done it in the past, so really, it was more about me helping the younger guys this offseason, getting those guys up-to-speed and trying to slow the game down for them.”