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NFL Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp: Tyrann ‘Honey Badger’ Mathieu Excels Early On, Steadily Transforming Image

 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After an up-and-down college career at LSU, Tyrann ‘Honey Badger’ Mathieu is working hard to transform his image in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals took a chance on him in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and it appears they made a great move.

So far during training camp, Mathieu has impressed. He has been racing all over the field making the same kind of plays that launched him into the Heisman Trophy conversation back in 2011.

According to ESPN, head coach Bruce Arians said of Mathieu that he is “a lovable kid,” which is contrary to what one may think after his run-ins with the law over the last couple of years.

Mathieu has been caught up in substance abuse previously and more notably was involved in an incident involving 10 bags of marijuana found in his apartment back in Baton Rouge. The 21-year old defensive back has vowed to change his ways as he enters his professional career and so far has done a wonderful job.

“They want him to succeed. We all do. He knows what it takes and he’s got a really good support group,” Arians said. “He’s learning how to play safety. He can cover sideline to sideline. He’s shown the range, he’s shown the speed to fill the alley, and I know he can tackle.

“He knows how to play nickel. He’s played it his whole life, so that’s a natural for him. I love the competition that he’s bringing, picking up some older guys’ games to stay with him.”

Mathieu has sounded as though he has matured a bit since coming into the NFL. “It’s been extremely positive for me. A ton of guys in the locker room, they all support me. I mean, they all knew my situation and they all hold me accountable. I think that’s something I needed coming into the NFL,” he said.

Plenty of folks around camp have labeled Mathieu with the term ‘ball hawk,’ including the man himself. “I’m a ball hawk,” he said. “Too many times on the outside you’ve got to focus on your man rather than just vision the quarterback. I like inside cornerback way more. You see the quarterback and it just gives you more opportunities to make a play.”

Heading into his rookie season, it sure looks like Mathieu is in a great situation and has been put in a phenomenal position to succeed. Hopefully he continues to improve his image and all of the hard work pays off for both him and the Cardinals.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.