NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu reported for training camp and was practicing Wednesday after initially being excused to attend to what the team described as a personal matter.
Mathieu returned Wednesday after he missed the first six practices of camp.
The offseason addition of Mathieu to the Saints' secondary was met with much fanfare in New Orleans, where Mathieu grew up and played in high school before starring in college at LSU. The 30-year-old, nine-year NFL veteran agreed to a three-year, $33 million free-agent contract with the Saints in early May.
Mathieu was raised by his grandparents in New Orleans, then became a star football player and track athlete for St. Augustine High School. He maintained deep ties to the city, enhanced through his charitable endeavors and football camps in the area.
He also has deep ties to LSU, where his tenacious play earned him the nickname “Honey Badger." He played two seasons for the Tigers. As a sophomore in 2011, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and won the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. But his college career was cut short when then-Tigers coach Les Miles dismissed Mathieu in the summer of 2012 for repeated drug test failures.
Mathieu spent time in a Houston rehabilitation program, but it wasn’t until he was drafted by Arizona in the third round in 2013 that he put his life together. Mathieu became a dependable defensive standout for coach Bruce Arians and has since added two All-Pro nods with Kansas City to go with one earned in Arizona. He also has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons.
Mathieu wound up playing five seasons for Arizona before a year with the Texans. He signed with Kansas City as a free agent for $42 million over three years and immediately became the quarterback of the Chiefs' defense, often relaying signals and directing the pre-snap alignment of defensive teammates.