Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is completely healthy this offseason. He is getting a lot of attention and has spoken a lot to the media, both local and national. He has battled his way back from shredded knee ligaments and also a broken thumb.
An undersized player, he plays big and isn't afraid to take on bigger players. Now entering his third season in the NFL, there might be questions about his durability and whether his style of play can last, especially considering his smaller frame at 5-9 and 186 pounds.
He was a guest with Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Tuesday and was asked about changing his play to stay healthier.
"I don't think it's possible (to change the way I play)," he said. "I think if I was to play timid, I would take everything away from my teammates and I think those guys wouldn't respect me a whole lot."
Now, to say Mathieu is injury prone is a bit premature. He blew out his knee his rookie year when he tried to get a few extra yards on a safety punt return. He broke his thumb. The knee injury was not a result of his fearless play on defense. It was perhaps a poor decision on a return.
But when you have a guy Mathieu's size, you do wonder if he will hold up. He does play hard. He knows there is a balance. "For me it is reckless abandonment, but sometimes you're got to be smart," he said on the air.
Being smart would include going down on while running with the football when there aren't more yards to gain. It doesn't mean playing timidly, which is what he believes it would be to take things down a notch or two while playing defense.
Mathieu is the sort of player who can be a difference maker on defense. Hopefully, this season he remains injury free so we can see more of the player we saw his rookie season.