The big news of the week has been losing Darnell Dockett for the season, but also the return of Tyrann Mathieu. He was activated from the PUP(physically unable to perform) list Tuesday and after one day of just position drills, he was out on the field for 11-on-11 work.
He spoke with Fox Sports Radio 910's Mike Jurecki and gave some insight to his recovery and his goals.
After his terrible knee injury in December, Mathieu never doubted he could be back on the field to start the 2014 seson. "I was just committed from Day 1 to hopefully be ready for the season opener, so I'm pushing for that and it seems like a great possibility right now," he said on the air.
It wasn't an easy thing to get back on the field. Aside from all the rehabbing and offseason work, Mathieu said, "I had to convince a lot of people to put me back out there."
He knows it is up to him to do his part now.
The regular season opener will be exactly nine months from his injury.
He admits he "was a little nervous" to get back on the practice field, although his first day involved only positional drills. On Thursday, though, he was in 11-on-11 drills and got a few hits in.
There are a couple of things different about Mathieu this season. One is he will be wearing a knee brace all year, per doctor's recommendations. The other is his playing weight. After entering his rookie season at 186 pounds, he was asked to put a few pounds on. He now comes in at 197, and it doesn't sound like he is thrilled about the extra weight.
"Hopefully we can come to a common ground that benefits both of us," he said. If he is going to play safety, he was always going to have to bulk up a bit. He probably doesn't want the extra weight slow him down.
Mathieu still has lofty goals. Aside from wanting to play in Week 1 and and wanting to play in the postseason, he has his eyes on "being the Pro Bowl and being Comeback Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year."
He also responds to those who have doubts (valid ones) about whether he will take a step back because of not being part of offseason workouts, OTAs and mini-camp.
"Mentally I never left the game," he said. Head coach Bruce Arians has said many times that Mathieu has been doing coaching, helping out rookie safety Deone Bucannon and getting work in at team meetings and meetings with his position group.
There are valid reasons to have concerns about Mathieu coming back so quickly. He will likely be a half step slower than he was. He is going to have a bulky knee brace and, while he got mental reps, he did not get the physical reps you want a second year player to get in the offseason.
But if there is one thing you can't do completely, you can't count him out. He said from the start he wanted to play Week 1. It looks like that could happen.
Listen to the interview in its entirety using this link or by downloading the audio directly to listen to later.
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