When Carson Palmer was the quarterback for the Bengals, he used to face the Steelers twice every season.
That meant he would see a lot of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu on film and then again on the field, the kind of exposure that leads a man to formulate a pretty good scouting report on a player. Palmer’s probably not spending much time looking at film of Polamalu now that he’s in Arizona, but says that he’s getting reminders of Polamalu every day at practice all the same by watching rookie Tyrann Mathieu work at safety.
“He reminds of Troy Polamalu with his closing speed,” said Palmer, via Peter King in Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com. “He might not be the fastest guy out there, but he can change directions and get to the ball really fast, like Troy.”
Neither Mathieu nor Polamalu has the ideal height for an NFL safety, so they need to have that kind of closing speed and recognition in their arsenal to be successful. King was at the Cardinals’ workouts last week and reports that Mathieu was “buzzing around” plays throughout the sessions, which is the very least that you’d want to see from a player during June workouts.
If he’s just as present when the Cards start wearing full pads and facing offenses trying to beat them, the Cardinals will be pretty happy with their decision to roll the dice on Mathieu in the third round. If comparisons to Polamalu keep coming, they’ll be overjoyed.