Keim: Mathieu might be back for start of season

Tyrann Mathieu tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee while returning a kick last Dec. 8.

Mark J. Rebilas

Good news, Cardinals fans: Tyrann Mathieu, who was expected to miss about 12 months after tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee while returning a kick last Dec. 8, might be back much sooner.

The second-year defensive back out of LSU has progressed faster than expected in his rehab, according to Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, and it is possible that he will be ready to play when the Cards open the regular season at home against the Chargers on Monday, Sept. 8.

In an interview with Adam Schein on SiriusXM Radio on Monday, Keim said, "We think there’s a chance he’ll be back by the beginning of the season."

Mathieu tore both the anterior and lateral cruciate ligaments in his left knee as he was tackled while returning a post-safety punt in the Cardinals’ win over the Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. He had surgery five days later, with the doctors’ prognosis including a 12-month rehab before returning to action.

"I told him, when the doctors initially put a timeline on a player’s injury, he’s the one guy that is so much different than anyone else because of his passion and his toughness," Keim said on SiriusXM Radio. "I told him, I said ‘Ty, don’t listen to anybody. Nobody can tell you and pinpoint the exact return date — that’s up to you.’ And he’s a machine. He’s the kind of guy that I really think could come back a lot earlier than people anticipated."

Keim also told Schein that Mathieu has been a revelation not just on the field but off the field, too.

"He’s constantly texting me, whether it’s about other draftable players that he liked — he’s just a student of the game. He was a guy that we obviously took a chance on, a calculated risk. And he showed up big for us on the field, but really made a bigger difference off the field.

"He has grown up tremendously. … He has been really a joy so far, and we’re excited about his progress."