The Arizona Cardinals defense will have a much different look when they take field Sunday afternoon in Nashville.
Last weekend rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu’s breakthrough season was cut short when he tore his ACL and LCL returning a free kick in the Cardinals (8-5) blowout win over the Rams. The injury, more severe than first thought, will keep the third-round pick out indefinitely.
Monday head coach Bruce Arians hinted “The Honeybadger” may not be ready for the start of training camp next summer.
“The is a long one,” he explained describing Mathieu’s recovery time. “I won’t tempt to say how long because it’s individual guys now.”
The freak injury sent shockwaves around the league.
“It’s just too bad,” Cardinals legendary quarterback, now NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview earlier this week. “On kinda that weird, fluke play he tears his ACL. I just think he’s done a tremendous job for them.”
Arians believes, despite Mathieu missing the last three regular season games, is still deserving of NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors amongst a deep, talented field which includes Bills linebacker Kiko Alonzo, Panthers defensive lineman Star Lotulelei and the Jets Sheldon Richardson among others.
Warner agrees, saying Mathieu’s play speaks for itself, despite not being able to finish the season.
“I definitely think he’s in the running, he explained. “I think he’s done a tremendous job and made a lot plays. [He’s] been very versatile for them. They’ve moved him around to do a lot of different things with him. I really like what he’s done. I think he’s going to get serious consideration…and I’d like to see it…he’s played extremely well.”
Mathieu said it will be weird not being on the field when the Cards look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the Titans (5-8).
“I don’t know what to do,” when addressing the media for the first time since the injury. “I’ll get some popcorn.”