GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Soon -- perhaps as soon as next week -- Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu will get his wish to be activated off the physically unable to perform list, which would open the door for him to practice for the first time during this year's training camp.
"That's exciting," Mathieu said when informed head coach Bruce Arians had told the media minutes earlier that he and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu were "pretty close" to returning to the active roster.
"I've been waiting for that moment."
Exactly when the decision will be made is unclear, but it's been eight months since Mathieu suffered a devastating left knee injury on Dec. 8 against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium that ended what had been a promising rookie campaign.
Ta'amu has been rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in last season's finale. He and Mathieu have been workout partners, spending their afternoons outside while their teammates practice in the comforts of the air-conditioned indoors.
"I'm itching to hit somebody and I'm itching to get my hand on the ball," Mathieu said. "I'm tired of playing catch with the trainers."
Every day, the Cardinals' second-year safety has been in the ear of Arians asking to be on the field.
"Yeah, in a very polite way," Mathieu said with a smile. "Tap him on the backside and say, ‘Hey, Coach, put me in.' He tells me to wait. I've been waiting for eight months."
Mathieu said his left knee, which was operated on in order to repair his ACL and lateral collateral ligament, is as strong as, if not stronger than, his right knee.
"I know our trainers and our doctors; I think they're pretty satisfied with how well I've progressed so far," he said. "My biggest thing is when I get out there I don't want to slow anybody down. I don't want to get in there and slow anybody down. If anything, I want to be able to contribute."
Mathieu said his goal is to be ready to contribute when the Cardinals open regular-season play against the San Diego Chargers on Monday, Sept. 8.
"I'm already in shape. I don't never really get out of shape. I'm not worried about that part of it," he said. "I'm more worried about my confidence in going against Larry (Fitzgerald) and going against elite receivers…because I didn't train for this upcoming season. All of my training was for (my) knee, so I think that's the biggest thing -- can I keep up with the elite guys and those fast guys in the slot."