Mathieu's injury costs Cardinals a productive, versatile defender

Mathieu out for season with torn ACL (1:51)

The NFL Insiders crew reacts to the news that Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu will be out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and discusses how this affects Arizona moving forward. (1:51)

One of the key components of the Arizona Cardinals’ defense -- ranked fifth in the NFL in one revealing statistic -- took a hit Monday with the news that Tyrann Mathieu suffered a torn right ACL on Sunday. The third-year defensive back from LSU is out for the season.

Mathieu had five interceptions this season, tied for the team lead with Rashad Johnson and tied for sixth in the NFL. All of Mathieu’s interceptions came when he was lined up as a slot cornerback.

In the past five seasons, only one player has more interceptions when lined up defensively in that spot: Brandon Boykin with six in 2013.

Mathieu's nose for the ball as a slot cornerback shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. His 519 snaps lined up in the position ranks fourth this season.

Those 519 snaps equate to 62 percent of the snaps Mathieu played. The Cardinals have allowed the third-lowest reception percentage to slot receivers this season (60.5 percent). The top two teams in this stat are the Green Bay Packers (55.9 percent) andDenver Broncos (58.4 percent).

Mathieu played more snaps this season in an outside linebacker's typical pre-snap location (170) than at safety (96), his listed position.

Not afraid to confront ball carriers

Mathieu, who made 89 tackles, is one of three players this season who has 80 tackles and five interceptions.

Using the expected points added metric, which captures everything a unit does to contribute to the team’s scoring, the Cardinals’ defense ranks fifth in the NFL this season, contributing 3.2 points per game to the team’s final scoring margin. Focusing on pass defense EPA, the Cardinals rank seventh in the NFL.

When Mathieu misses the Cardinals’ Week 16 game, it will mark the third consecutive season he has missed time. Last season, thumb surgery cost him two games. His rookie season, Mathieu had a torn left ACL and LCL and missed four games.

Did you know?

Mathieu is one of 17 Cardinals players to score a touchdown this season. The Baltimore Ravens are the only team to have more players score this season.