Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 6/3/13
TEMPE, Ariz. Since he was drafted, Cardinals third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu has been a greater focal point of the Phoenix media than top pick Jonathan Cooper or second-round pick Kevin Minter. Given his myriad accomplishments at LSU -- and his equally notable missteps off the field -- that made sense. But as organized team activities (OTAs) entered their third week on Monday at the teams Tempe headquarters, the only heat Mathieu was feeling was that of the withering Arizona sun. It was 100 degrees at nine oclock at night this weekend, Mathieu said with the wonder of a Valley newbie. You cant even go and sit by the pool at night. Its the same temperature it is during the day. Mathieu will adjust in time. In the interim, he has more pressing adjustments hes looking to make, most notably, his shift to the free safety position. The mental side of it is a challenge -- being at a different position, being in control of the entire secondary, making sure Im calling the right calls and making the right checks, said Mathieu, who took reps with the first-team on Monday. Thats the most important and difficult thing for me. Mathieu is at an unusual disadvantage in that regard. Hes got a real soft voice, coach Bruce Arians said, smiling. So hes got to learn to bark a little bit louder. The rest of Mathieus game appears to be in order, despite his unusually long layoff from the game after his dismissal at LSU. The athletic and physical parts arent hard at all. Im up to speed there, he said. And the playbook is easy for me. I catch on to things easily. Mathieu is working hard to be a model employee since signing a four-year, rookie-scale contract worth 3.052 million that includes a signing bonus worth 265,000. He even voluntarily entered the NFLs drug testing program recently. Ill do whatever I have to convince my team Im committed, he said. Arians insists he is already seeing it on the field, including a pick-6 in Mondays workouts. He gets thing the first time the coaches tell it to him, Arians said. Hes got natural instincts to play football. Im really happy for him. Hes playing really well. Arians added that Mathieu is distancing himself from past issues. When you come into locker room, youve got to leave all that stuff, Arians said. Whether its family problems or whatever, thats all got to stay outside. Given the months that have passed since Mathieu last played in a game (he was out of football last season after being dismissed for a violation of team rules that he later acknowledged to be numerous failed tests for marijuana), Mathieu feels like hes making up for lost time. It just feels great to be a part of a team again, he said. Im still adjusting to practicing in the heat and adjusting to working with a team after being out of football so long, but in this last phase of OTAs, I already think Im getting a little better. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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