Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona’s most versatile defender, said: “I’m the best player in the world. That’s how I feel.” After tearing his ACL, Mathieu was never himself last season. On that are added the two major knee operations in 4 NFL seasons, and the suffered shoulder injury that ultimately short-circuited his season two days before Christmas. But the player the Cardinals have seen this summer, though, is a different beast. Mathieu has shined in training camp sessions and emerged as the player we all recognize.
After finishing three of his four NFL seasons on injured reserve, Mathieu was draped with questions about whether he’ll ever return to peak form (last season he signed a $62.5 million deal with $35 million in guarantees). Cardinals GM Keim said: “There is probably public pressure, that this guy has to do it, especially with the contract and the times when he’s been healthy he’s shown he’s one of the more dynamic players in the NFL. But the great thing about him, no one puts more pressure on him than himself. There’s no one who wants it more than him. He’s had some real tough breaks. But I’d never bet against the guy.” During one of his performances, Mathieu added: “It’s about gaining that confidence back in myself. Believing in myself more than others may believe.”
Baltimore Ravens majority owner Steve Bisciotti has reportedly shown “resistance” to the idea of signing free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick despite support from general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh. Bisciotti was asked during a fan forum about the potential damage signing Kaepernick could do to the Ravens’ “brand”. He responded: “I hope we do what is best for the team and balance that with what is best for our fans. Your opinions matter to us. … We’re very sensitive to it, and we’re monitoring it, and we’re trying to figure out what’s the right tact. So pray for us.”
The leaders on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball have confirmed the team would welcome the former San Francisco 49ers starter. Linebacker Terrell Suggs on the subject added: “Hell yeah, if he’s going to help us win. We have no issues. Not in the locker room. Hell yeah, we want him.” Flacco also joked and added: “I would like to see Colin get back in and, at some point, maybe get another shot [to be a starter]. I wouldn’t like that to be here. I do not want him to get another shot [to be a starter] here, but yes, he can come here and have some fun. I think it would be a good spot for him.” Kaepernick has remained a free agent since opting out of his contract with the Niners in early March despite a 88.9 career passer rating, which ranks 11th among active quarterbacks. He threw 16 touchdowns and four interceptions across 12 games (11 starts) with San Francisco last season. If added to the roster, he’d immediately jump into a competition with Ryan Mallett and long-shot candidates Dustin Vaughan and Josh Woodrum to serve as Flacco’s backup heading into the 2017 season.
Browns linebacker Jamie Collins has had some road under his feet. From losing his parents and friend, the glory times with the Patriots to his Cleveland home. Despite the trade and having to watch the Patriots go on to win another Super Bowl without him, he has no arguments with Bill Belichick: “I love Bill. He’s a great coach. Smart, everything. We know that he’s consistently winning, so there’s nothing you can say about Bill Belichick.” Collins witnessed family atmosphere and made fast friends with teammates such as linebacker Christian Kirksey: “Despite the record, everybody’s smiling, and I just felt that. Nobody’s head was down. I went 0-12 my senior year in college and I saw a lot of guys pouting. But when I came here, you’d think we were undefeated.” In the offseason, Collins signed a four-year extension worth $50 million. Collins is so rejuvenated under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that he has begged to play free safety. Collins explained: “It was just a joke, but, I’d definitely be back there at free. Whatever coach wants me to do, I won’t back down. He’s brought a great sense of urgency.” He also showed off that old high school QB arm in minicamp by firing the ball into a small mesh pocket in a skills competition after practice.
“I love playing quarterback,” he said. “I love to have the ball in my hands. That’s the reason I always go after the ball.” His son Jamie Collins Jr., who just turned 3, is his biggest inspiration: “I never thought I could love somebody like that. It’s crazy, it’s weird, but it’s exciting. It’s not just about me anymore. I’m blessed to have him. It keeps me grounded.”