Tyrann Mathieu plays best game while getting comfortable with brace

TEMPE, Ariz. – Heading into Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, second-year safety Tyrann Mathieu wanted to make a play.

Any play. Just get his hand on the football. It didn’t have to be a crucial moment of the game. He just felt that the next step in his return from ACL and LCL surgery would be to find his play-making rhythm again.

It came in the fourth quarter and just happened to be on one of the most important plays in Arizona’s 24-20 win. On the second to last play of the game, Mathieu skied over Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews to deflect a potential game-winning touchdown.

“Probably my best game,” Mathieu said. “Wasn’t really thinking about my knee. I was moving around pretty good. I was in coverage and finally [able to] break on the ball [and] get an incompletion, so that was encouraging.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Sunday was the most encouraging game he’s seen out of the Honey Badger, who had four tackles while playing a season-high 76 snaps against the Eagles.

“He’s gotten better and better and better and more confident,” Arians said. “I think the day that brace comes off, he’ll be back to full speed, in his mind.

“He’s already back to full speed, but in his mind he’ll back there and more comfortable.”

But Mathieu’s brace may not come off for the rest of the season.

He began wearing it during training camp, and it took him a couple months to adjust to wearing it. This week, almost two months into the season, Mathieu said he’s just starting to feel comfortable with it.

“I don’t want to have any setbacks,” Mathieu said. “So, I’ll probably just keep it on.”