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The Best Rookie Storylines at the Arizona Cardinals' OTAs

Andrew NordmeierContributor IIIDecember 3, 2016

The Best Rookie Storylines at the Arizona Cardinals' OTAs

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    The Arizona Cardinals are halfway through their organized team activities (OTAs), and it's time to focus on the rookies at this point. Arizona drafted nine players in the 2013 draft, and we'll take a look at some of them in this article. 

    They have more OTAs scheduled for the first two weeks in June. 

    Start the slideshow and learn more about the best rookie storylines coming out of the OTAs thus far. 

Tyrann Mathieu Shelves "Honey Badger"

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    Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu wants to change the way he is perceived as he makes the transition from college football player to professional football player. One of those changes is going to be his desire to drop the nickname "Honey Badger." reported on his desire to lose the moniker stems from the stigma and memories associated with it from a negative perspective. Perhaps, it's a part of a new focus that Mathieu has now that he is at the NFL level. 

    Mathieu appears to have learned that image is a big part of life. Hopefully, he can stay on the straight and narrow path as seemingly every move he makes will be under scrutiny. 

    Just like the one on the next slide. 

Tyrann Mathieu Has an Adventure on Twitter

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    Mathieu learned a lesson that is well-served for rookies and veterans alike. That lesson is that social media interactions can be a potential pitfall. 

    NESN reported that Mathieu sent direct messages to a 17-year-old girl on Twitter. The link includes screenshots that the girl took of the messages that originally appeared on Black Sports Online. 

    While Mathieu did nothing wrong, it goes to show that social media can either be a goldmine or a landmine for players and teams. Either way, it's a story that's come out in the last couple days.

    Hopefully, he learns from the experience, and perhaps, gets in touch with someone to help bolster that part of his brand and image to make it a positive one for him. 

Jonathan Cooper Tells How He Got Quick

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    Arizona took Jonathan Cooper with the seventh overall pick at the NFL draft. Cooper brings a unique mix of size and speed to the offensive guard position. 

    But how did he get the speed and agility that made him a first-round pick? 

    According to in Raleigh, N.C., Cooper was too big to play Pop Warner football and was the water boy for his older brother's team. Despite him being about 40 to 50 pounds heavier than other kids his age, Cooper was able to keep up with them on the playground. That set the tone for him to be mobile and agile despite his size. 

    Now there's no doubt, at 6'3" and 300 pounds, that he's going to be one of the bigger kids on the playground of the NFL. Yet, he'll still run like a back and try to make blocks 20 yards down field. 

Stepfan Taylor Stays in School

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    Running back Stepfan Taylor hasn't participated at the Cardinals' OTAs with good reason. NFL rules prohibit him from joining the team since Stanford's final exams don't end until June 12.

    With Arizona's OTA schedule, that gives him the possibility of just one day, June 13, to join the team at OTAs. If he doesn't, he'll have to jump in when training camp opens in July. 

    According to the Star-Telegram (Dallas), Taylor has been hitting his playbook like he's been hitting text books to complete his degree in information science and technology in society. Taylor is making sure he's prepared for life after football. It's a smart move, given that the average career spans 6.86 years, according to

    With Arizona's offense having some similarities to Stanford's, Taylor has been able to pick up some of the professional offense. There's still a long way to go before he has a full understanding of the offense. 

Alex Okafor Sees a Familiar Face

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    The transition from the college game to the professional game can be difficult and lonely. The fourth-round pick from Texas, Alex Okafor, came to Arizona and found a familiar face in linebacker Sam Acho. 

    Both players have Nigerian-born parents, according to the story on the team's official website, and that helped forge the initial bond when Acho met Okafor when Okafor was visiting Texas on a recruiting trip. 

    Okafor has turned to Acho for help as he goes through his first-season rookie minicamp and OTAs.

    Between the family connections and collegiate connections, they also share a unique connection that's hard to top. Okafor was taken with the 103rd overall pick in 2013. Acho was drafted in 2011 also with the 103rd overall pick. 

    Same college team. Same professional team. Same draft pick. And now, they will have the same results in the 2013 NFL season with Arizona. 

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