Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu signals an incomplete pass during last weekend's game against Philadelphia.
One sign for Tyrann Mathieu that he was getting back to his old self?
"I was talking a lot of crap," the safety said of his game against the Eagles.
That, as much as anything, put Mathieu at ease that he is where he wants to be as the Cardinals reach the halfway point in the season. The game against Philadelphia, he said, was the first all year where he didn't give much thought to his reconstructed left knee – or the brace he must wear on it.
Coach Bruce Arians said Mathieu is playing better although wouldn't really be back to normal until the brace comes off. That may or may not happen this season.
"I don't know if he can take it off this year, maybe just for security purposes," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. "He may just have it on all the way."
But even if it stays on, Mathieu has become effective. He's more physical. He showed coverage skills, like knocking away one of the final passes in the end zone against the Eagles, leaping high into the air to do so.
It comes at a good time, with the status of starting safety Tony Jefferson up in the air for the weekend with a concussion. That Mathieu could help out because a teammate is injured is fitting, since he said the play of the rest of the secondary helped him get to this point.
There was no pressure from anyone for him to rush back on the field and "make plays I really wasn't ready to make."
Bowles said Mathieu's quickness has returned, which was apparent against the Eagles. Considering his limited playing time, his stat line is starting to grow a bit, with 16 tackles, a tackle for loss, three pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hit on the season.
"I got cut (blocked) last week in Oakland and I got cut this past week, so I knew my knee was fine," Mathieu said. "I'm making more tackles, breaking on balls better. I know I can do it, and it was more about that mental hurdle. This is what, Week 8 now? I think I'm over that hurdle. And it's a good time to be over that hurdle, too."
JEFFERSON, NIKLAS QUESTIONABLE; ROMO SITS OUT AGAIN
Jefferson was upgraded to full practice Friday and had been cleared to do so, but Arians said Jefferson was going to meet with the
independent doctor one more time Friday. Jefferson is officially listed as questionable for the game. "He's fine," Arians said. "But we want to make sure."
Tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) was still limited and is also question for the Cards. Everyone else – save for running back Stepfan Taylor (already declared out with a bad calf) – is probable.
For the Cowboys, quarterback Tony Romo is officially questionable despite missing practice once again Friday. It seems unlikely he would play, but the decision won't be made until the game. Starting tackle Doug Free (foot) is out, while starting guard Ronald Leary (groin) is questionable. Everyone else is probable.
JOHN BROWN SETTLES INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
When quarterback Ryan Lindley was released at the end of training camp and the Cardinals' locker room was able to shed the temporary stalls used for most of the rookies, Carson Palmer didn't think twice. The quarterback went to assistant equipment manager Jeff Schwimmer, and said of wide receiver John Brown, "He needs to be over here."
That's how Brown ended up with a locker between Palmer and backup QB Drew Stanton.
"He's a guy that you could tell was going to play right away and wasn't going to be sitting on the sidelines with enough talent to play but not enough brains to play," Palmer said. "I just wanted to make sure I was around him all the time."
It seems to have worked, with Brown scoring four touchdowns in seven games and going over the 100-yard mark for the first time last weekend against Philadelphia.
When Brown was first looking for his locker he couldn't figure out where he was supposed to be – since the receivers are on the other side of the room. But he's learned to accept where he is.
"Just being around these guys is a great feeling," Brown said. "They always have me laughing. Sometimes we get on the business of working, what needs to be done."
Palmer is also happy with the arrangement.
"This is the high-rent district around here, so having a rookie over here is definitely new for this row of lockers," said Palmer, conveniently ignoring the fact rookie Logan Thomas is Palmer's other locker neighbor. "He's fit in well. He hasn't violated any of our HOAs yet. He hasn't let any of his stuff spill into my lawn. It's going good so far, but we still have a lot of season to go."