GLENDALE, Arizona — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says safety Tyrann Mathieu is "pretty close" to coming off the physically unable to perform list and could be practicing with the team within a week.
Mathieu, known widely as the "Honey Badger," was having a standout rookie season when he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee against St. Louis on Dec. 8. In 13 games, he had 62 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a special teams tackle.
"I'm itching to hit somebody," Mathieu said at his locker on Tuesday, "and I'm itching to get my hands on the ball. I'm tired of playing catch with the trainers."
Arians said nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu , who tore his ACL in the final game last season, also is close to coming off the PUP list.
Mathieu has worked out on his own and expressed confidence that his knee is sound. He looks at the Cardinals' deep, talented secondary and said he wants to add to it, not detract because he's not ready.
"I still want to be ready for the opener," he said, "but I don't want to slow our group down. I think last year the focus was our front seven. That was our best group. This year I think it's the back end. I don't want to get out there and slow anybody down."
Mathieu said he's in football shape already.
"I don't really get out of shape. I'm not worried about that part of it," he said. "I'm more worried about my confidence, going against Larry (Fitzgerald), going against elite receivers. ... I didn't train for this upcoming season. All I've been training for is my knee. So I think that's the biggest thing, can I keep up with elite guys, those fast guys in the slot."
NOTES: Arians said he expects outside linebacker John Abraham to be in camp this week. Abraham, the NFL's active career sacks leader, has been absent for personal reasons and has apologized for his arrest on a drunken driving charge in suburban Atlanta in late June. He said in a statement that he is taking "the necessary steps" to handle his "personal business." ... G Jonathan Cooper (toe), ILB Kevin Minter (pectoral muscle), OT Nate Potter (back) and Max Starks (ankle) and OL Anthony Steen (neck) didn't practice for a second straight day. Arians said some of them might not be able to play Saturday night at Minnesota. WRs Michael Floyd (groin) and Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) remain sidelined and could miss a second straight game. C Lyle Sendlein is out with a calf injury but Arians said he expects him back next week.