Tyrann Mathieu could return for Arizona Cardinals on Sunday

Tyrann Mathieu missed Week 10 with a shoulder injury, but there’s a chance the Arizona Cardinals will get “Honey Badger” back for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Arizona Cardinals have had a disappointing 2016 season to this point, with a 4-4-1 record that has them on the fringe of the early NFC playoff picture. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu missed last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers with a shoulder injury, but there’s a chance he could play on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Mathieu was officially listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. While that status doesn’t mean what it has in the past, with the NFL’s elimination of the probable injury designation this year, Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians pointed toward “Honey Badger” being a game-time decision.

Mathieu’s role as Arizona’s slot corner was sorely missed last week, as 49ers’ slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was a mismatch for cornerback Marcus Cooper on his way to posting seven receptions (on seven targets) for 71 yards and a touchdown.

After totaling 26 receptions (on 29 targets) for 244 yards over the last two games, Arians has said Vikings’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be shadowed by Cardinals’ top cornerback Patrick Peterson during Sunday’s game.

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Diggs operates from the slot a fair amount though, with a significant uptick to that over the last two games, so if Mathieu is active the plan to have Peterson strictly follow Minnesota’s best wide receiver in coverage would surely be altered.

Mathieu’s overall versatility is also an important part of the Cardinals’ defense. But his mere presence would shift Arizona’s other cornerbacks back to their customary roles, while making it easier for defensive coordinator James Bettcher to dial-up pressure and take advantage of an injury-riddled Vikings’ offensive line.

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