Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals punter returner Tyrann Mathieu in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrann Mathieu could play in Week 1

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Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu had an amazing rookie season as the team’s nickel corner, as the LSU Tigers product made plenty of plays in the pros, just like he did in college. He showed plenty of coverage skills, and he should be a standout next year as a free safety with first-round rookie Deone Bucannon next to him at SS.

All eyes will be peeled on Mathieu’s recovery this offseason, though, because we don’t know if he’ll be ready for the opener against the San Diego Chargers in the west coast Monday Night Football game. He tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee on a kick-off return in Week 14 against the rival St. Louis Rams and his initial timetable actually had him returning at around the date of the opener, thus making him a toss-up. He’ll be on the PUP list to start training camp, but everything else remains cloudy and off into the future.

According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Josh Weinfuss, Cardinals GM Steve Keim told SiriusXM NFL Radio that Mathieu could be healthy enough to return for the Week 1 game against  Philip Rivers and the Chargers.

Keim added, “He has been a gym rat,” Keim said. “He’s in here all the time. We have to kick him out of the building and tell him ‘Tyrann, go home for a little bit.’ He’s always in the training room doing his rehab.”

Mathieu has a fair shot at playing in the first week of the season, but I don’t expect the Cardinals to rush him back. Not only is he young player, but the Cards have some depth at safety and understand that Mathieu is a lynchpin-type player at the back end.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Injury Report Steve Keim Tyrann Mathieu