Maybe it’s the soft voice. Or the humility. Or the honesty. Or maybe it’s just that safety Tyrann Mathieu is having the best training camp of any Cardinals defensive player according to his head coach. For whatever reason there has been a noticeable shift by many in their perception of Mathieu. He’s gone from pothead to prospect and if he continues on this path he will be one of the NFL’s bigger stories this season. “I think a lot of people have jumped back on the bandwagon” Mathieu said. “On Twitter everywhere everybody is starting to root for me again which is definitely encouraging for me.” Mathieu has won a lot of people over since the Cardinals drafted him in the third round in April. Reviews were mixed when he was selected because Mathieu had missed his final season at Louisiana State after being dismissed from the team because of chronic marijuana use. So far Mathieu appears to have heeded that wake-up call. The Cardinals rave about his punctuality his work ethic his professionalism and sobriety. Mathieu seems to have won over the team’s veterans. Former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson was supposed to be Mathieu’s mentor but a handful of older players also have taken special interest in the kid known as “Honey Badger” in college. “We’ve all been through our ups and downs in life” said defensive lineman Frostee Rucker. “It just caught my eye the way he took grasp of his situation. The one thing you have to do first and foremost is prove to yourself you can be a professional. He’s shown that and proved to the rest of the guys in the locker room that we can count on him.” That’s what Rucker has emphasized to Mathieu. At the NFL level it’s not just about him. “This is a grown man’s sport” Rucker said. “People have families and we’re all accountable to each other and depend on each other. He’s taken huge strides in that.” From afar it was easy to think of Mathieu as a thug — and a dumb selfish one at that. With so much at stake at LSU — a national championship a Heisman candidacy — how hard could it be to lay off weed? Then you see the baby face and hear barely the voice. Mathieu seems earnest when he says he has changed that he’s not the “Honey Badger” any longer although he doesn’t mind if you call him that.
Cardinals third-round draft pick Tyrann Mathieu’s behavior has many hoping he’s turned a corner
Arizona Republic | Aug 14