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Arizona Cardinals

It's nice to focus on Tyrann Mathieu's football ability

Head coach Bruce Arians chats with defensive back Tyrann Mathieu during Arizona Cardinals training camp Tuesday, Aug. 13 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

The great thing about Tyrann Mathieu is that we are finally talking about what he is doing on the field and not off of it.

Since the talented but troubled former LSU star was selected by Arizona in the third round of the NFL Draft, all the discussions about the "Honey Badger" have been about his controversial past. His getting kicked off of the Tigers football team for failing multiple drug tests, his admission that he failed more drug tests than he could count and even questions about his contract with Arizona and whether he would get any guaranteed money. Peter King of Sports Illustrated had reported at one time that Mathieu would not receive any fully guaranteed money in his rookie contract.

So watching him play the preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers was a welcome relief from all of the negativity. And to watch him get a sack, make a few tackles and return a punt 24 yards was an early indication that the Cardinals gamble on the former Heisman finalist might just pay off. Now we look forward to his start against Dallas on Saturday to see what else he can do.

I'm sure there are plenty of people rooting against Mathieu and hoping he fails. But why? Hopefully he learned from his mistakes. Hopefully he was just a young, immature kid who did some dumb things. Hopefully he was humbled by getting kicked off his team and seeing his draft stock plummet to the third round.

Hopefully he is not Michael Beasley. Now everyone that knows me just a little knows that I knew Beasley was going to fail again. It was inevitable. There was no way he was going to stay out of trouble. No chance. You could have taken it to the bank. But Beasley was easy to predict because he was such a screwup as a pro and you knew he just didn't care.

Mathieu made his mistakes in college, so there is the belief that he is eager to prove people wrong, hungry to earn real NFL money on his next contract and, with proper guidance and mentoring from players like Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald, will actually overcome his demons.

There is no telling whether Mathieu takes advantage of this second chance or not. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

But there is no reason to root against him. It would be nice to see a troubled youngster rebound and make something out of the talent he has.

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