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Mathieu expected to see more time at slot corner

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  • By Max Meyer NFL.com
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The chart above shows where Tyrann Mathieu lined up for snaps relative to the line of scrimmage (blue line) in 2015 compared to four games in 2016.
The chart above shows where Tyrann Mathieu lined up for snaps relative to the line of scrimmage (blue line) in 2015 compared to four games in 2016.

After allowing the Rams to move to two games over .500 on Sunday, the Cardinals might shake things up due to a sluggish 1-3 start.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Cardinals are going to move one of the stars of their defense into a position he's more familiar with playing.

It looks like Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona's Swiss Army Knife in the secondary, will finally get his chance to play at slot corner for the first time this season. Mathieu established himself as a bonafide Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season playing as a slot corner. His inside positioning allowed him to play closer to the line of scrimmage and blitz, or use his strong leaping ability and ball skills to create havoc when covering taller tight ends.

Following a season-ending ACL injury this past December, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has eased Mathieu back into the defense by playing him at safety. Tyvon Branch has been the slot cover man to start 2016, but Honey Badger was eager to reclaim his old role back.

"We're 1-3, man," Mathieu said earlier this week about moving back to the slot this upcoming Thursday night against the 49ers. "It's not really time for me to sit back and play it slow."

Arians previously stated that he wanted to hear Mathieu say he wanted to be switched back before acting on it -- and it seems as if that's exactly what he is doing.

The Cardinals certainly have the pieces to be an elite defense. Offseason acquisition Chandler Jones has led a pass rush that is tied for the fifth-most sacks in the league. Behind them, safety Tony Jefferson has been brilliant over the first four games, and cornerback Patrick Peterson is still one of the top shutdown corners on the outside.

Add in a fully lethal Mathieu back in the slot, and opposing offenses could be gasping for air in the desert.

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