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Tyrann Mathieu now in starting lineup for Arizona Cardinals, Jake Ballard not starting for now

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The rookie continues his meteoric rise.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals rookie defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has earned another feather in his cap in his young NFL career. After being out of football for a year and being considered a high-risk selection in the NFL Draft, undersized and not fast enough, Mathieu has now cracked the starting lineup for Arizona, and not because of injury.

In the latest version of the Cardinals' depth chart, Mathieu has officially taken over as the starting free safety, replacing Rashad Johnson.

Now, this was a move that was not unexpected. Against Atlanta Mathieu started at safety in base packages. He did not, though, stay at that position. In nickel packages, he would slide down to slot corner, where he has played all season. Johnson would come in the game at safety.

It would make sense to continue with that rotation, with Mathieu playing safety in base packages and then moving to the slot for passing downs, where he has made a ton of plays.

The move to starting comes after he was honored as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month.

In other changes to the depth chart, it was updated to note the changes at tight end. Jim Dray and Rob Housler are both listed as the starters, and newcomer Jake Ballard is listed behind Housler.

How long will that last? That remains to be seen.

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