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Late in a Week 14 game home game against the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL in his left knee returning a kick.

It was a crushing blow to the team's secondary, forcing the star rookie to miss the final three games in what was otherwise a storybook season.

Since then Mathieu has had surgery and begun the rehabilitation process, and while his story may have added a chapter he was hoping to avoid, it appears he's ready to keep writing.

"He works his tail off and he's really ahead of schedule in his rehab," Cardinals GM Steve Keim told ProFootballTalk.

The exact schedule that Mathieu figured to be on was always a bit unclear, as every player is different with regards to how quickly they can return to the field after an injury like the one he suffered.

However, in an AZCardinals.com video series titled, "Tenacious," fans are given an inside look at what the 21-year-old is going through.

In the latest episode, which was released on March 19 and is the third in the series, Cardinals assistant trainer Chad Cook said Mathieu was moving into the next phase of his rehab.

"Now we're transitioning into that phase of just working on his range of motion, getting that full range of motion back, getting his strength back," he said.

In the video, Mathieu said there are some days where he feels better than others, which is to be expected when going through something like this.

But his progression, and that's the most important thing.

"To see the progression over the last couple weeks, it's been amazing," Cook said, pointing to some of what Mathieu is now able to do that he couldn't before, like wall squats. "He's making tremendous strides."

Of course, Mathieu still has a long way to go before he'll be back on the field, and what kind of player he'll be upon his return remains a question.

But if he is ahead of schedule as Keim says, we may find out soon enough.

Adam Green, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com

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