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Deep at secondary, Cardinals move on after losing Mathieu

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have plenty of depth in the secondary, so there are players to fill the void left by the loss of Tyrann Mathieu.

The Honey Badger's energy and passion will be tough to duplicate.

''You can't replace Tyrann Mathieu,'' cornerback Patrick Peterson said. ''There's only one 32, there's only one Honey Badger.''

Peterson was a teammate of Mathieu at LSU. The two are good friends and Peterson said the injury ''hit me very hard.''

''In my opinion he was the defensive player of the year,'' Peterson said. ''He was playing that type of football, lights out, each and every week, especially on the biggest stages, when we needed him.''

Mathieu, in the midst of an outstanding season, tore his left ACL in Sunday's win at Philadelphia and is out for the rest of the season. Now it's up to the others to try to fill that void.

There will be no big changes in responsibilities.

''It doesn't change too much what everybody has to do,'' safety Rashad Johnson said after Thursday's practice.

''Just guys are going to play a little bit longer in different spots here and there, but we've been doing it all year, switching up our jobs, who's blitzing, who's covering. At the end of the day it's just football so I think we'll be fine.'

Jerraud Powers will move into the nickel slot in pass situations, a position he played last year. Justin Bethel will take Powers' spot at the outside cornerback position in that nickel formation.

There also will be more playing time for safety Tony Jefferson and recently signed D.J. Swearinger.

The depth was bolstered on Wednesday when the Cardinals re-signed safety Chris Clemons. Clemons was placed on injured reserve (hamstring) in October when Arizona signed outside linebacker Dwight Freeney. Later, Clemons reached an injury settlement. That made him eligible to return this week.

''He was playing very well for us,'' defensive coordinator James Bettcher said, ''was highly involved in some packages early in the season and his role at the time he got hurt was only going to expand.''

None of the remaining players can match Mathieu's playmaking abilities.

''The biggest thing with (Ty), he makes those splash plays and he has his passion for the game,'' Bethel said. ''It's hard to replace, but we all have our hands in the pile.''


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