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Tyrann Mathieu says he is 'core player,' is 'looking forward to Jimmy Graham'

The young safety was on NFL Network.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu was a guest on NFL Network recently and talked about some of the changes the team is going through with this offseason and also some about how things went in 2014.

A couple of notable things were what he considers himself and how he is "looking forward" to the matchup against tight end Jimmy Graham, now a member oft he Seattle Seahawks.

He was asked what it would take to get the Cardinals to the top of the hill and win the NFC West.

"I think everybody just has to stay healthy and play with that consistency," he said. "I think we started off great last year and then we kind of hit a wall. We couldn't tackle, we couldn't make big plays, we were dropping passes. We need to play with that consistency for 16 games and I think we'll be all right."

Following that answer, he was asked about how the defense can continue its play, especially with the loss of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who is now the head coach for the New York Jets.

"I think our core players are still there," he explained. "Patrick (Peterson) and Calais (Campbell), myself, even Rashad Johnson and Jerraud Powers. I think our core is intact. You can't really replace Coach Bowles, but we're going to try our best."

Mathieu talked about how much belief head coach Bruce Arians creates with the players. Mathieu said everyone plays for their teammates and they all had faith in everybody who stepped on that field -- "even LIndley"  -- to perform at a high level.

The discussion then turned to the Seattle Seahawks and how beating them is supposedly getting harder this offseason with the addition of star tight end Jimmy Graham.

Mathieu's response?

After giving Seattle credit for being tough team to beat even without Graham because of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, he said, "I'm looking forward to Jimmy Graham."

"Obviously, I was kind of excited when he came to our division," he continued. "It's physical, so he's going to have to block. It's going to be a complete game."

Health will be a big key for the Cardinals. They ran out of gas late in the season after too many injuries took their toll. The offense struggled and the defense stayed on the field too long, which led to tired tackling late in the year.

But Mathieu is right with Graham. Yes, Graham shredded the Cardinals when he last faced them in 2013, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The NFC West is a different beast than the NFC South, though. Seattle is a run-first offense. Graham will open things up, but it will be fun to see how the Cardinals choose to cover him. Mathieu will certainly get a shot or two at it.