Arizona Cardinals third-round draft pick Tyrann Mathieu was "buzzing around plays" during organized team activities, drawing comparisons to Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu for his closing speed.
After taking reps with the starters during offseason practices, Mathieu appears ticketed for nickel packages with a chance to claim the free safety job.
Asked Wednesday by Steve Wyche of NFL Network's "NFL AM" if Mathieu could step right in and make an immediate impact, coach Bruce Arians replied, "I don't think there's any doubt. ... He's getting his hands on a lot of balls. The guy's got amazing instincts and closing speed."
The Cardinals' official website projects Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson as the starting safeties, but beat writer Darren Urban acknowledges that Mathieu "is going to play in some way, shape or form, including nickel corner sometimes. You just don't see it any other way."
One star wide receiver's pick as the "best player" in the 2013 NFL Draft, Mathieu might be a highlight-reel fixture even if he's unlikely to play enough snaps to contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.