The Honey Badger will get his first career start vs. the Cowboys
Mathieu, who had a sack, a pass defense, a tackle for loss and a 24-yard punt return in last Friday’s preseason opener, against the Green Bay Packers, is all set to start his first NFL game on Saturday. He will be replacing veteran safety Rashad Johnson, who is injured and thus cannot play in the Cardinals’ second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys this week
Johnson suffered a mild ankle/knee sprain when he broke up a pass late in the Cardinals’ practice on Monday.
"We'll be cautious with him," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "He's having such a great camp."
Mathieu said Johnson was among those teammates who have “shown me the ropes” to playing NFL safety and wished the veteran a speedy recovery. But whenever Johnson returns, Mathieu is still figures to play a big part in the Cardinals’ defense in nickel and dime packages.
The 5-foot-9 Mathieu has emerged as one of the most dynamic players’ out of the Cardinals camp, after he had a few run-ins with the law during his collegiate career and was booted from LSU team last year for chronic marijuana use. He ended up sitting out the entire season which would have otherwise been his final year of college.
The Cardinals drew a lot of mixed reviews when drafted Mathieu in the third-round of the 2013 draft, but since then the player claims “a lot of people have jumped back on the bandwagon” and the support from him keeps on growing. Arians noted that he entire Cardinals squad has taken upon themselves to look out for Mathieu and help him get acquainted with the new system.
"For the most part everybody's just telling me to play my role [and] everything's going to come to me," Mathieu said. "Don't get caught up in the media and all the hype that's going on right now, just go out there and keep doing what you're doing."
"It probably was a longshot, but I'm just putting in hard work,” he added, “I guess everything's starting to come together for me."