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Cardinals DC: 'I wouldn't bet against' Tyrann Mathieu

Coming off his second major knee surgery in two years, Tyrann Mathieu has plenty of folks around the NFL wondering if he'll return to form in 2016.

The Arizona Cardinals have no doubts about their uber-talented safety/corner hybrid.

"I wouldn't bet against Ty," defensive coordinator James Bettcher recently told The Arizona Republic. "Don't do it. You'll lose."

That same day, at his annual charity golf tournament, coach Bruce Arians went a step further, saying of his defense: "We're going to keep building this thing around (Mathieu) and (cornerback) Pat (Peterson)."

There's more to it, though, as Mathieu is seen inside team walls as an emerging face of the franchise, per The Republic. That's quite a leap for a third-round pick who, in 2013, found himself wiped off plenty of draft boards due to his off-the-field struggles in college.

The Cardinals, though, couldn't be more sold on Mathieu's freakish talent and love for football.

"He had reasons for what he did and he had solutions for how to fix it," Arians told Around The NFL at last week's Annual League Meeting. "He never blamed anyone else. He blamed himself. Then you know that guy has a chance."

Said Arians: "I believe in second chances to a point, when you own up and you have a solution to your problem. But in Tyrann's case, it was easy: He had passion for the game."

Arians argued that Mathieu could have succeeded anywhere in the NFL, telling us: "Ty is so strong. He has a support system that he leans on, but he could do it himself -- and he knows it."

As for Mathieu, he hopes to stay in Arizona for good.

"Obviously, I love this team, I love this locker room, I love the coaching staff, upper management," said the former Defensive Player of the Year candidate. "I think this is the perfect place for me. I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life here."

The Cardinals feel the same, with general manager Steve Keim calling it a priority to re-sign Mathieu and make him "a fixture here for years."

Plenty of rehabbing players around the league can't help but wonder what their NFL futures might hold. Mathieu's recovery is no less arduous, but he fights back with the knowledge that Arizona sees him as an indispensable chip for years to come.

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