Rookie Tyrann Mathieu is making the transition from cornerback to free safety and nickleback in the NFL. The 2011 National Defensive Player of the Year while at LSU made 10 starts for the Tigers that season at cornerback, three at nickleback and just one at free safety.
Time is on his side though. There are more OTAs coming and training camp is still 6-7 weeks away.
"Cornerback is pretty simple, just cover the guy in front of you," the third-round draft pick said after a recent OTA practice to arizonasports.com. "But the nickel and the free safety, that kind of is when your head goes to spinning: What am I supposed to do? You've got to get those two things down pat first."
According to Mathieu, the biggest difference between cornerback and free safety is verbal.
"I have to be vocal," Mathieu explained to arizonasports.com. "I'm one of those guys who, I don't really say too much. I talk a lot of trash sometimes, but other than that, I'm not the one making the checks. I think I'm in position to make the checks, so I've got to be more vocal."
Mathieu is getting advice from veterans Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson, two players that have a wealth of experience to share with a wide-eyed rookie. Head coach Bruce Arians likes what he sees so far.
"He's adapted extremely well," Arians said. "He's a guy you only have to tell once and he's got it."
Now that his contract has been signed, Mathieu is delighted with this new experience.
"I'm enjoying it," Mathieu told arizonasports.com. "I think it's a challenge, with me having to be more vocal. It's still football and it's still a DB (defensive back) position. "I'm just so happy to be back out here. For me, it's just going out there, just playing football, understanding my responsibility, relaying it to my teammates and just go to the ball."
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