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'Fantastic' Tyrann Mathieu 'really ahead of schedule' in recovery from knee injury

The second year player is working hard.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most important players for the Arizona Cardinals on defense in 2013 was Tyrann Mathieu. After suffering a torn ACL and LCL, his return is still not known. He is hopeful he can be ready to play at the start of the season.

The good thing is that, according to general manager Steve Keim, who spoke with Mike Florio in Orlando, Mathieu is doing well.

Keim said that Mathieu has "been fantastic, almost to the point where we have to kick him out of the building."

He called him a "football junkie" and, more importantly, "he works his tail off and he's really ahead of schedule in his rehab."

How ahead of schedule? That is uncertain, as they have not put a timetable together for his return to football.

If he keeps working the way he has, he might make it for the season.

The issue, though, will be a couple of things. First, even if he can play, he will likely have other injury issues -- groin, hamstring, etc, as that is completely normal for the leg to do upon return from such an injury. Then, on top of that, he probably won't be as explosive and he will have missed out on offseason work, OTAs and mini-camps.

Can Mathieu come back? Yes, but he might not be the same player in 2014.