Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is ready to leave behind his deep free safety role on Thursday against the 49ers.
The slow return of Tyrann Mathieu has been sped up.
After four games of exercising caution, the Cardinals' star safety said he's ready to "cut it loose" defensively beginning Thursday against the 49ers. Mathieu has been employed as the team's deep free safety while still recovering from a torn ACL, but is now lobbying to return to his game-changing role closer to the line of scrimmage.
"We're 1-3, man," Mathieu said. "It's not really time for me to sit back and play it slow. I feel good. I feel great. I look forward to wherever Coach puts me at, but if I've got anything to say about it, I'll be back in my normal spot."
The move could be necessitated by the groin injury safety Tyvon Branch suffered in Sunday's loss to the Rams. Mathieu filled his nickel cornerback role the rest of the game, but even if Branch plays against the 49ers, Mathieu is ready to be more involved in the action.
He only had two tackles against Los Angeles, and outside of a forced fumble in Week 3 against the Bills, has been light on the impact plays everyone has come to expect.
"My expectations are extremely high for myself," Mathieu said. "I'll never feel sorry for myself, so I think it's time for me to get back to what I'm doing. I feel comfortable out there. It's time for me to start making plays."
Earlier this season, coach Bruce Arians said he would put Mathieu back into his customary defensive role once the fourth-year defensive back came to him and said he was ready.
Asked if he had told Arians yet, Mathieu smiled.
"I just did," he said.
PASS RUSH TURNS UP THE HEAT
The Cardinals' biggest defensive issue last season was their pass rush, but it performed well against the Rams. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones graded out as the fourth-best player in all of the NFL on Sunday by Pro Football Focus after he accumulated four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
He has four sacks on the season, as does outside linebacker Markus Golden. Jones, Golden, defensive tackle Calais Campbell and nose tackle Corey Peters graded out as the team's best four defensive players against the Rams by Pro Football Focus.
"We got after it," Golden said. "Our coach said we did good. We watched the film and we did pretty good, but of course we can always do better."
CHRIS JOHNSON MISSES PRACTICE
Backup running back Chris Johnson (groin) was one of several Cardinals who missed practice on Monday as the Cardinals prepare for a quick turnaround. Quarterback Carson Palmer (concussion) didn't practice, although Arians was more optimistic about his chances of playing against the 49ers than he was on Sunday.
Branch (groin), punter Drew Butler (calf), defensive tackle Josh Mauro (chest) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) also did not practice. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (knee) returned to practice in a limited capacity for the first time since getting hurt in the opener. Cornerback Justin Bethel (foot) and right tackle D.J. Humphries (ankle) were also limited.
The 49ers announced star linebacker NaVorro Bowman is out for the season with an Achilles injury. San Francisco didn't practice Monday, but sent out an approximation of which players would have been available.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (foot), wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (ankle), and cornerback Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) wouldn't have practiced, while guard Zane Beadles (ankle), cornerback Chris Davis (quadriceps) and tight end Vance McDonald (hip) would have been limited.
LINEBACKER ADDED TO PRACTICE SQUAD
Outside linebacker Cap Capi was signed to the practice squad. An undrafted free agent from Akron, he spent time on the Ravens' practice squad in 2015 and began this year on the Falcons' practice squad.
The Cardinals had an opening because linebacker Cam Johnson was signed by the Browns to their active roster.
Images from the Cardinals' 17-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4