Mathieu is an incredibly talented corner and along with All-Pro Patrick Peterson the Cardinals have a solid nucleus for a very special defensive back core. Mathieu struggled with off field issues while at LSU, but in his rookie season he was nothing short of phenomenal. In a game last December against the St. Louis Rams, Mathieu tore his ACL, which put him out for the rest of the season and off season.
With most ACL rehabilitation's a player returns in six to eight months, the Cardinals and Mathieu smartly have not rushed through the rehabilitation. For Mathieu missing training camp and preseason games is not going to hurt him since the Cardinals already known what he brings to the table, and allowing Mathieu extra time to fully rehabilitate will greatly decrease the chances he re-injures the surgically repaired knee.
With Mathieu cleared to begin contact drills this means he is one step closer to returning to the field and also a sign that he is in the final stages of his rehabilitation. Since Mathieu has missed training camp and preseason games the Cardinals will want him to get actual football reps under his belt before adequately allowing him to play. A week one return for Mathieu may be a slight stretch of the imagination due to the limitations on contact practices in the NFL, but that decision is up to the Cardinals and medical staff.
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