Photo via cbssports.com
When the Arizona Cardinals lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to a torn ACL with two games left in the 2015 regular season, it immediately put a damper on an otherwise wildly successful campaign. Behind quarterback Carson Palmer’s resurgence, the Cardinals were legit contenders for the Super Bowl, but losing Mathieu to his second ACL tear in two years was a huge blow to the team’s secondary as they geared up for the playoffs. More than just team success, though, Mathieu’s health and whether he’d maintain the explosiveness that earned him the nickname “Honey Badger” was a huge concern.
The Cardinals lost the NFC Championship Game to the Carolina Panthers, but Mathieu is reportedly way ahead of schedule in his quest to get back on the field to extract revenge in 2016. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald recently told reporters that Mathieu is speeding through his rehab so quickly that the team actually asked him to slow things down.
They’re having to hold him back,” Fitzgerald said. “He heals like Wolverine. He’s so passionate and we love him dearly. And we’re so happy to see he’s going to be ready to go for us by training camp, and he can pick up right where he left off.”
“I feel so much better than last time around,” Mathieu told the Arizona Republic. “It’s not as significant as last time, so I was able to hit the ground running. I was able from the start to do a lot of different things, things I wasn’t able to do for the first five months last time.”
One of those activities is running on a treadmill three months after surgery. Mathieu is also feeling well enough to work out five to six hours a day this off-season, completing workouts that include squatting 245 pounds and stepping over and under hurdles. He’s also decided to go vegan, saying he was tired of “eating poison.”
With all that Mathieu is doing, look for the Honey Badger to wreak havoc in the Cardinals secondary in a major way in 2016.