Bethel (foot) is penciled in as one of the Cardinals' starting cornerbacks in advance of training camp, the team's official site reports. "Obviously Justin is the current starter, but it's always going to be an open competition," general manager Steve Keim said Tuesday. "Knowing [coach] Bruce Arians and his staff, we'll play the best 11 out there, so whoever gives us a chance to succeed. But we have expectations for Justin."
Keim commented in the wake of the Cardinals making one of their classic veteran signings -- cornerback Mike Jenkins inked a deal Tuesday -- at least under his reign over the past three and a half years. Jenkins provides experience to a group of CBs lacking in that department outside of Patrick Peterson (ankle), but the vote of confidence in Bethel certainly bodes well for his prospects. Although Bethel enters camp in the latter stages of his recovery from a fractured foot, he put together a decent sample size as a starting corner late last season, racking up 25 tackles, four passes defended, and one interception in four games (including playoffs).
Mathieu's (knee) availability in Week 1 against the Patriots will be dependent upon his health, the Arizona Republic reports. "If I'm 90 percent, then I don't necessarily want to go out there," he said Sunday. "But if I'm 100 percent, I definitely want to be out there."
Embedded within his second rehab effort from a torn ACL -- the other occurred near the end of his rookie year in 2013 -- Mathieu's reticence to take the field isn't a shock, especially after logging just 13 games in a generally subpar 2014 season. With an unimpeded offseason under his belt last fall, he was the centerpiece of the Cardinals' defense, accumulating 89 tackles (80 solo), five interceptions (one for a touchdown), one sack, and one forced fumble in 14 contests. The season-ending injury resulted in a less imposing unit that was ultimately embarrassed in the NFC championship by the Panthers, which his representatives are likely pointing during the ongoing conversation about a contract extension. No matter if the sides come to an agreement, Arizona could be without its starting slot corner, if he deems himself unready.
Peterson (ankle) took part in individual drills during the Cardinals' mandatory minicamp last week, the team's official site reports.
Peterson hasn't missed a game in his five-year career, but nagging ankle concerns seemingly forced the All-Pro cornerback under the knife as a preventive measure in mid-April. Handed a 6-to-8 week recovery timetable, his lack of participation in OTAs wasn't a surprise by any means. His return to drills during minicamp signals that his rehab is on schedule, though, with the aim of full health by the time training camp rolls around in late July.