Safety Tyrann Mathieu gestures to teammates as he is carted off the field Sunday after hurting his knee.
Tyrann Mathieu had a second day of treatment Tuesday morning, trying to get his injured left knee ready for the surgery that will come soon.
The safety, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament and his lateral collateral ligament Sunday against the Rams to end his rookie season, believes his year out of football in college because of off-field issues has helped him initially with the jarring reality of a season ended. But he said he knows there is a difficult road ahead.
"I've never been injured before, and to have my first injury be so severe I am sure it will take its toll on me as the months count down," said Mathieu, standing with crutches in the locker room. "I've been through enough already. Hopefully this can add some motivation into my life and let me reflect even more, grow closer to God and those type of things."
Mathieu was officially placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Safety Curtis Taylor was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad to take his place.
Coach Bruce Arians already said he doubted Mathieu will be able to return in time for training
"This will be a long one," Arians said. "I won't tempt to say how long because it's (different for) individual guys now."
Mathieu hasn't thought that far ahead yet. When the play first happened, he said he felt something in his knee as he was tackled but assumed it was a hyperextension and "me being me, I felt like I could run it off."
Instead, the knee buckled as he neared the sideline and from there, reality set in. Mathieu cried in the locker room as he absorbed the news.
The rehab process will not be easy or short. For a player who has had off-field issues, that can sometimes be a problem. But Arians said he wasn't worried at all about Mathieu during this time, and teammate Jerraud Powers said Mathieu might actually be better equipped to handle such a situation given his past.
Mathieu has heard the suggestions his past could be a concern now, but he reiterated he has his personal life under control.
"I take the things I have been through and you learn from those," Mathieu said. "As far as the off-field issues, I feel like I have those kind of things in the bag. I'm still continuing that process. This injury, in addition to what I have been through off the field, hopefully those things can come together and make me stronger and more of a leader.
"I'm not really interested in the negatives or if people have anything negative to say. That's not really my mindset. Everything is going to be positive."
As for a rookie season that had been important to the Cardinals and impressive to the NFL world, Arians said that he still thought Mathieu – who was starting free safety but who also played cornerback and nickel defensive back -- deserved to win defensive rookie of the year.
"The job he did in the three positions he played was outstanding, and I don't know if (the injury) will hurt him (in the voting) or some other guy will get it," Arians said. "There are other deserving guys out there also, but he meant a lot to us because of his flexibility and his positions. It will take two guys to take his place."
Mathieu smiled at Arians' rookie of the year suggestion, and admitted such an award is the furthest thing on his mind. He said he didn't even play as well as he wanted to this year.
"I left a lot of plays out there," Mathieu said. "Left an interception out there (against the Rams) that should have went to the house. Overall, I think I had a pretty good rookie season. I think I adjusted well, coming in being a starter, taking on a leadership role. I think I set a pretty good bar for rookies coming in as defensive backs for the Cardinals.
"I am looking forward to next year and now I'm supportive of these guys. Hopefully they can get to the playoffs and hopefully I can get on the team plane and take some road trips."