Meeting Arizona legend and American patriot John McCain wasn't the best experience of Tyrann Mathieu's memorable Tuesday.
Not yet 25 years old, Mathieu deserves credit for pulling off the dramatic transformation from pre-draft pariah to franchise cornerstone and precocious team leader.
Mathieu's turnaround is emblematic of a Cardinals organization widely viewed as a laughingstock as recently as a decade ago.
Guided by the steady hands of team president Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals have joined the ranks of the NFL's model franchises.
Here's what else we learned from Tuesday's action in training camps around the league:
- That stability in Arizona allowed the Cardinals to place their faith in Chandler Jones and promising second-year pass rusherMarkus Golden, resisting the urge to reciprocate Dwight Freeney's interest in a return. Absent that opportunity, the seven-time Pro Bowler chose the Falcons over the Bengals on Tuesday, signing on ostensibly as a much-needed situational edge rusher and mentor to Vic Beasley.
"There's no quarterback in the NFL or college that probably gets hit at practice," coach Chip Kelly explained. "Really the big determination for those guys will be the preseason games are going to be huge for those guys."