Cardinals' Safety Tyrann Mathieu came into the NFL with a question mark. His college days were muffled and his reputation wasn't the best.
But little by little Mathieu started to make an impression with his coaches, his teammates and the fans. By week 14 of the NFL season, he had 65 tackles (68 combined tackles), one sack and two interceptions.
There's no doubt that Mathieu is considered one of the NFL's top defensive rookies along with guys like Kiko Alonso (Bills' linebacker), Sheldon Richardson (Jets' tackle), Star Lotulelei (Panthers' tackle) and Eric Reid (49ers safety).
But with 9:01 to play in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams, Mathieu suffered an injury. He was back to return a free kick when he was tackled by Isiah Pead and then met by a slew of Rams. You knew right away he was hurt because he limped off the field, but he did it under his own power. So the injury couldn't be that bad, right?
Wrong. On his way to the bench, his knee completely buckled and he fell to the ground. He was then carted off the field.
After an MRI on Monday we learned that Mathieu not only tore his ACL, but he also tore his LCL. Rehabilitation time for that should last about nine months. That means he's likely to miss the start of next season.
"He was crying, he was sad," said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. "He had never been injured so these guys that get hurt for the first time, it's devastating. To take away the thing he loved the most and worked so hard for, he was devastated. But he'll get over it and get strong. He's got a lot of support."
On his way off the field, Mathieu showed his support to the home crowd as he waved and then blew a kiss.
"He's got a bright, bright future," added Arians. "Just right now he's gotta work hard at getting his leg back and I'm sure he will."