It's nearly impossible not to be impressed with Tyrann Mathieu at this point.
Or with Cardinals GM Steve Keim for taking him in the third round of the draft.
Mathieu has stood out on the field and blended in off it, the perfect marriage for such a high-risk/high-reward player. For those who thought it was a needless risk at that stage in the draft (yeah, this guy right here) watching his early impact has been a bit of a revelation.
For Mathieu — and Keim, for that matter — there is no visible finish line to define this as a success. Much like Vontaze Burfict in Cincinnati, it might take a year or two, or more, before you feel safe in declaring that he is the player and person you know now instead of the one you knew.
This is a big week for Mathieu, returning home to New Orleans. Friends, family and diversions await him. But there was one tiny bit of information — just a short quote really — that made me feel even better about Mathieu's transformation.
He was asked about how many ticket requests he had received for the game. Mathieu laughed and said he changed his number so, you know, none.
I'm not sure why, but that struck me as an incredibly responsible thing to do. On the surface, he's trying to avoid the interference of dozens of people who want something from him. That's just one more thing to worry about for a guy who already has plenty on his plate. And if that's all that it is, then that's good enough for me.
But was there something more? Has he decided he needs to leave some of those bad influences in the rear view mirror? Is he turning his back on his boys?
Maybe I'm reading too much into it; certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of that.
Either way, Mathieu continues to hit all the right notes. Just as the new GM had hoped.