For Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, Sunday’s matchup in New Orleans will “just be another game for me.” While the two-time All-Pro is focused on making enough plays to help the organization secure its 13th win in a single season for the first time since 2003, the primetime Week 15 matchup does come with at least some added significance.
Mathieu, a former LSU standout, will be making his third start in four games against the Saints this weekend, his first game back in New Orleans since his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, where he notched his first career interception courtesy of Drew Brees. With the 41-year-old passer now slated to start after recovering from 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung, Mathieu will have another chance to take one away from Brees on his home turf.
While speaking to the media on Thursday, Brees’ teammate and three-time Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara spent much of his time talking up Mathieu and just what makes the eighth-year veteran such a special player and person.
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Alvin Kamara: ‘Tyrann Don’t Give a F***’
As only Kamara can do, the 25-year-old star had a not so subtle way of describing what he sees while watching Mathieu on film. You can watch his full Thursday press conference here.
“Yeah, if I’m being completely honest, and uncensored, Tyrann don’t give a f***,” Kamara told reports on December 17, via Amie Just of NOLA News.
“That’s like the main thing I see. Just seeing him,” Kamara continued. “I mean, I was watching him at LSU, watching him in the league do his thing. I mean, he’s just one of those dudes that’s got the heart, that heart bigger than most out here. I mean, he’s got a big heart, man. It shows on the field. He makes plays, and he does things that you don’t see a lot of people do, you haven’t seen a lot of people been able to do.”
Through Kansas City’s first 13 games, Mathieu has already posted a career-best six interceptions, including four in his last three contests alone. Mathieu trails only two of his counterparts — New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson (7) and Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (9)— for the league-lead in picks in 2020.
Kamara Admired Mathieu’s Play in College
During his days at Norcross High School in Georgia, Kamara, then a 16-year-old and three years Mathieu’s junior, even got an up-close look at the man once deemed the “Honey Badger” for his tenacious play style.
“Man, I mean, I remember watching them,” said Kamara. “I’m trying to think what year. I think 2011, I went down to Alabama, the Alabama-LSU game and just watching Tyrann and I’m like, ‘Man, this dude is crazy. Like he’s out there doing what he wants to do.’ That’s my first real memory like dang, Tyrann’s a beast. And then, obviously, in the league, he’s had a heck of a career so far. I mean, he’s still going and still getting better and still just excelling.”
While Brees’ return is a positive on paper for the 10-3 Saints, the aging quarterback may still be limited in his playmaking, presenting a prime opportunity for Mathieu and the Chiefs defense to pounce on potential turnovers.
Kansas City may also benefit on both sides of the ball from lower crowd noise as New Orleans was forced to reduce its fan capacity by 80% (from 15,000 to 3,000) for the potential Super Bowl preview due to rising COVID-19 cases in the region around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!