Tyrann Mathieu ‘felt great’ in training camp debut Sunday

Aug 21, 2016, 5:58 PM | Updated: Aug 22, 2016, 11:17 am
Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu stands over J.J. Nelson after tackling him in a training camp pract...
Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu stands over J.J. Nelson after tackling him in a training camp practice Sunday, Aug. 21. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — And on Sunday, the Badger was back.

Tyrann Mathieu, who was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, practiced for the first time this training camp Sunday afternoon. Prior to the session, head coach Bruce Arians said the defensive back would participate in individual drills but was unsure of anything after that, yet Mathieu was on the field in 7-on-7 and 11-0n-11 work, too.

The Cardinals were not in full pads, but it was still a lot more Mathieu than anyone expected just eight months after he tore the ACL in his right knee in a Week 15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I felt great,” Mathieu said Sunday. “Got to get my wind back, but other than that, felt great. Felt like I moved around pretty good.”

Mathieu saw a good amount of reps with the first-team defense by lining up in his usual safety spot. He said he was told the plan was for him to get a couple plays in, but he fought back, saying that amount of work would not do much for him.

“So I pushed it a little bit, but I feel great,” he said.

The fourth-year pro said he was playing at about 80 percent, though he did not feel like he played with too much hesitancy. He pointed to one play where he feels he could have made an interception but did not quite get there in time and instead had to settle for a big hit.

“But I’ll clean that up,” Mathieu said.

A defensive player of the year candidate before going down last season, Mathieu signed a five-year contract extension early in camp and is seen as a key piece of not only the team’s defense but the organization as a whole. Just 24 years old, if he can stay healthy, the former third-round pick should continue to be one of the game’s brightest stars.

The sooner he can get back to being himself the better the Cardinals will be, and Mathieu is comfortable saying his recovery from this knee injury went a lot more smoothly than the last one. Given that, it might not take too long for him to regain the form that saw him post 89 tackles, five interceptions, 16 passes defensed and one sack in 14 games last season.

He will have to transition from getting mental reps on the sideline to actually being on the field in the middle of the action, which is why getting back on the field now could prove valuable.

“Being a spectator is so much different than actually playing a game, so I was fortunate enough I was able to come out here today and get some work,” he said.

Mathieu missed being on the field. While he enjoyed cheering on his teammates, he’d rather be making big plays himself.

As for those teammates, Mathieu said they were surprised by how much he was able to do in his first day back.

The Cardinals’ Sept. 11 Week 1 opener is still a few weeks away so there will be time for him to shake off whatever rust may have been accumulated during his absence.

His signature passion, which Arians said will need some time to return, at some point will show itself, and the leadership skills he has shown in the past will come more easily for him now that he is on the field with his teammates.

In time, Matheiu should be Mathieu again.

After an offeseason of rehabilitation, Sunday offered his first chance to be a football player again, and to say it went well would probably be an understatement.

“I was real surprised; I didn’t feel any pain, I didn’t really get tight at all,” Mathieu said. “I was surprised with where I was at, but I was also pleased with what I’ve been doing.”

 

Arizona Cardinals

Jordan Hicks #58 and Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after Hicks sacked Andy Dalt...
Wills Rice

Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks, Zach Ertz mum on impending free agency

Arizona Cardinals LB Jordan Hicks and TE Zach Ertz are both unrestricted free agents now that the offseason has officially begun.
16 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/@CardsMarkD)...
Jake Anderson

Cardinals safety Budda Baker gives health update from hospital bed

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker provided an update on his health from a hospital bed via Instagram on Tuesday morning.
16 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Tanner Vallejo (51) tackles Los Angeles Rams running back Cam A...
Wills Rice

Arizona Cardinals to select No. 23 overall in 2022 NFL Draft

The Arizona Cardinals will be selecting No. 23 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft after the team's 34-11 Wild Card loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
16 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches from the sideline during the second half of hi...
Wills Rice

Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury closes season with another poor finish

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury's end of the year struggles are well documented, but Monday's loss closed another abysmal finish to the season.
16 hours ago
J.J. Watt #99 and Chandler Jones #55 of the Arizona Cardinals take a knee during an injury timeout ...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ season a ‘massive failure’ in eyes of J.J. Watt, Kyler Murray

The once promising Cardinals season came to an unceremonious end on Monday, along with it any and all of the good feelings left from 2021.
16 hours ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on from the side line in the second quart...
Kellan Olson

Kliff Kingsbury: Struggles in 2nd half of seasons ‘definitely a priority’ to fix

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has seen one of his football teams melt down in the second half of the season yet again.
16 hours ago
Tyrann Mathieu ‘felt great’ in training camp debut Sunday