Tyrann Mathieu trusting the ‘process’ in his comeback

TEMPE, Ariz. — The road to recovery for Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu has been a slow one with lots of hills and valleys.

That winding road is starting to become a lot straighter.

Mathieu made his first start of the season this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Mathieu made some mistakes during the game, but all in all, it was a solid performance for a man who’s coming off major knee surgery and a lot of rehab.

“[I’m] still progressing, but obviously we’re still taking it slow,” Mathieu said. “It felt great to play a lot [on] Sunday.”

Mathieu played 49 out of a possible 60 snaps on defense against the Redskins. He was also in on one special teams snap.

The knee brace Mathieu has to wear on his left knee is still giving him a bit of trouble.

“I’ve gotten better with it as time has passed by,” Mathieu said. “The brace itself is a process, just trying to play with it and get comfortable with it.”

Head coach Bruce Arians said after the game and during the week that Mathieu will get the start at strong safety in nickel packages and possibly some other packages.

Mathieu says he’s fine with his newly expanded role.

“Well, I can’t complain with it, obviously I’m still progressing, still trying to get better mentally and physically,” Mathieu said. “If you ask me ‘Do I want to play every down?’ yeah I would love to, but we’re sticking to the plan we had since training camp.”

Arians has seen Mathieu make strides in his progression. He would like to see Mathieu go even further beyond where he is now.

“Improvement and more and more getting used to the brace and not playing with it as much,” Arians said. “He was playing with it every play, now he just kind of runs around.”

As much as it’s a physical comeback for Mathieu, it’s a mental comeback even more. Mathieu has to believe he can get back to 100-percent and be the All-Pro selection he was in 2013 before the injury.

All that kicked in for Mathieu with the start against Washington.

“Absolutely, it was confidence for me, confidence from my coaches and me watching that on film lets me know I can push myself even harder next time,” Mathieu said.

It’s hard for Mathieu to pinpoint exactly when he’ll be back to complete health. There’s just no telling when at this point.

“I’m dealing with a year long injury, so hopefully November,” Mathieu said. “I showed a few signs of it last game with bursting and anticipating things, so hopefully, as I play more, get more reps [and with cornerback] Jerraud Powers lined up next to me, [that] definitely makes me comfortable.”

 

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