In Tyrann Mathieu's first news conference since joining the New Orleans Saints in training camp, the All-Pro safety said he was thankful for the support he received from teammates and the organization during the time he was away attending to a personal matter.
Mathieu missed the first six camp practices, but has been present for the last two as the 10-year veteran engages in a ramp-up period while readying to join practice as a full participant.
"To be honest, it's been fairly supportive," Mathieu said. "From the team perspective, they've been really supportive – teammates, former teammates, a lot of different people being supportive. That was a great feeling to have that support, and to have that grace, really.
"I'm sure at some point I'll be more transparent about the first six days of practice, but more importantly, just happy to be back around the guys. I'm feeling good, I'm in great spirits, really healthy. Everything that's important is going good. Just in a good place and it's all about ramping it up and getting back into it."
Mathieu said the support was vital to him while he was away from the team.
"It's extremely important," he said. "I think a lot of times, especially with strong people, we kind of just let those people go through life and we never really show that support, or we don't consider that. So I think having the team support, having Coach's support, allowed me – I think I'm a strong man for the most part – but it allowed me to just embrace that. Embrace that moment and embrace that support."
Mathieu's activity has been limited in his first two practices. His knowledge of the defense is fairly high, given his participation in the team's offseason program. But his body has to be conditioned.
"It's a little out of the norm for me," he said of a ramp-up period. "I'm usually one of those guys that never really misses practice or anything like that. It's taken some mental adjustment, because I really want to be out there, but at the end of the day it's a long season and here we have really high expectations of playing late into the season. Not necessarily important for me to be out there right now, but to be where I need to be when the time is right.
"It's a fair adjustment. Obviously, you want to take the coach's advice, you want to take trainers' advice. So I listen to those guys, I embrace it. But I think in my spirit, I know where I belong, and it's in between those lines. So it's just kind of getting that all out of my head and realizing that there's a lot of people around me that have my best interests going forward."
The participation will increase soon, perhaps even through Mathieu's own doing.
"I joked with my coach (Wednesday). I said, 'What if I just run out there?' He laughed about it," Mathieu said. "But those guys are going to take their time. I'm still learning the system, but I feel like I'm pretty far along in the system. It's all about just getting the body right, getting my feet under me, and not going too fast. Because I think if you go too fast sometimes, bad things can happen. If you can take it slow, you can kind of control the bad things."
The New Orleans Saints took the field for practice during 2022 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Thursday, August 4.