The Arizona Cardinals' selection of Tyrann Mathieu in April's draft was a pretty classic high reward pick.
The last time we saw the defensive back in a game that counted he was creating havoc on the LSU defense (that was the 2011 season, because he was suspended for the entire 2012 campaign), making plays in a ton of different ways. So when a blur in a red and white jersey caught up to Rams tight end Jared Cook in the open field on what looked like a sure touchdown and punched out the ball from behind, was there any question it was Mathieu?
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Mathieu showed up with a huge momentum turner in the first quarter of his NFL debut, and his first game in more than a year-and-a-half, causing a fumble just before Cook crossed the goal line. The ball was recovered by Arizona in the end zone.
Aside from being a pretty disappointing play for Cook, a huge free-agent addition for the Rams, it was a play that was pretty typical of Mathieu's college career.
Mathieu seems to always find his way around the ball and make something happen, which is why the Cardinals drafted him in the third round despite a long list of off-field issues. Cook was running all alone in the open field after splitting the middle of the Cardinals' defense, and looked to have a 45-yard score before Mathieu made a great hustle play to force a turnover. Mathieu had a nice preseason as well, setting up a role in the Cardinals defense. It's surprising he didn't look rusty after a year out of football. So far he has looked like the same type of player he was as an All-American at LSU.
The forced fumble on Cook is only one play in the first quarter of Mathieu's career, but it's a very positive first step for him.
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