The news on Monday was worse than was feared for rookie defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. He left the field after a return on a free kick with a knee injury and it was feared that he had torn his ACL. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians confirmed earlier reports in the day that Mathieu in fact had torn his ACL in his left knee, but also his LCL, ending his season and giving him a very long road of rehab and recovery before he can play at all during the 2014 regular season.
Surgery will take place in a bout a week to repair the damage done in his knee, after which he will have to work a ton to get back.
Arians said it was "very unlikely" that he would be back in time for training camp.
Reprter Kent Somers spoke with a surgeon about the injury and reported that the amount of damage in Mathieu's knee is still now known and won't be known until he goes under the knife. That makes it very hard to pinpoint even a window for the return of the standout rookie. However, Somers did note that Mathieu's agent is optimistic that Mathieu would be ready for the team's 2014 season opener.
What do the Cardinals do in the meantime? Arians said it would take "two guys" to replace Mathieu on the field. Mathieu plays safety and slot cornerback, and he also plays a significant role on special teams.
In base packages, there will likely not be much dropoff. Rashad Johnson reclaims his spot in the starting lineup at free safety. On Sunday, after Mathieu's injury, the changes were notable in nickel packages. Instead of Mathieu in the slot, starting cornerback Jerraud Powers moves over from the outside to the slot and Antoine Cason played outside. In dime packages, where we have seen both Cason and Javier Arenas getting work, Arenas entered the game.
We should expect to see more of the same. The one player that we have not seen on defense in recent weeks is safety Tony Jefferson. Based on what Arians comments, it didn't sound like Jefferson would be much in the mix, as he noted that Arenas has played a little safety this year.
As for what the team does with Mathieu's roster spot, as he will most assuredly be placed on injured reserve, they could promote safety Curtis Taylor from the practice squad.
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