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Honey Badger’s healthy return sweet news for Cardinals

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TEMPE, Ariz. — The Honey Badger is ready to go on the hunt once again.

Now that third-year safety Tyrann Mathieu is fully healed following significant injuries to his left knee and left thumb, that’s great news for the Arizona Cardinals and potentially bad news for their opponents.

“He’s got a smile on his face,” head coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday as the Cardinals began their second week of organized team activities at their training facility in Tempe, Ariz. “He’s extremely quick and fluid again. He’s got his hands on balls. He looks like he was when he was a rookie.”

Mathieu was a mess last season, first having to slowly work his way back from a torn left ACL and then deal with surgery to repair a broken thumb, which got crushed during a Week 13 game against the Falcons.

“He felt one-legged and one-armed,” Arians said. “He was playing not to lose, and he had never played that way before.”

Though these practices don’t include any real contact, Mathieu has been turning heads in camp for the past couple weeks.

“He was flying around and was all over the field today,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “That’s what made him what he was as a rookie. He was flying around, always in the right place at the right time. You could see it again today and every day this whole camp. He’s back to 100 percent.”

Mathieu has ditched his knee brace and no longer has to wear a cast on his wrist. On Tuesday, he said he finally has a reason to celebrate.

“Football is fun again,” he said. “I would say it took me basically a year to really get back healthy and feel comfortable again. But I think everybody is different. I’m just happy that I’m finally at the point where I can do a lot of things.”

Asked if he’s able to do everything he needs to do, from making sharp cuts, sudden stops, and accelerate without discomfort or hindrance, Mathieu nodded his head.

“I think I’m moving around pretty well,” he said. “I’ve never been a fast guy. I’m more quick than fast. So I feel like a cat, I’ll say that.”

Or a Honey Badger.


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