Josh Mauro looking to up his game with Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Mauro is grateful to be where he is right now with the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s a blessing,” Mauro said. “When I got the call that I was coming over here and that I was getting signed to the roster, it was an absolute blessing, and I’m just thankful for them bringing me here and the opportunity.”
Mauro signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent this past May out of Stanford. He spent the preseason with them, until he was released on August 30. Mauro re-signed with Pittsburgh a day later. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim wanted Mauro badly, so when he had a chance to bring Mauro in, he jumped at the opportunity.
Mauro made his NFL debut against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and played very well. He took 22 snaps at defensive end, had two tackles [one for a loss] and he had one pass defensed. Not bad for a rookie not knowing what he’d be doing on game day.
“I actually didn’t know, I was playing in a certain package and we started with that package based on whatever personnel they had on the field,” Mauro said. “Based on what they came with to start with the game, that’s kind of when I knew I would be out there on the first play.”
As you can imagine, a lot of things swirled through Mauro’s mind and body once his number was called and he knew that he was going to start alongside fellow defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and defensive end Calais Campbell.
“I just wanted to do my job at the high level that’s already been set here by all the guys and this great defense and this great team, and that’s all I wanted to do,” Mauro said.
“Guys like Calais [Campbell] and Tommy [Kelly] and Frostee [Rucker] and Dan [Williams], they set the bar really high up front, so coming in there can’t be a let-off, there’s no time for a learning curve or getting comfortable. I just wanted to come in and play at their level, which is the highest level in the NFL right now.”
Mauro received a solid game plan ahead of time from his coaches. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and defensive line coach Brentson Buckner made sure he would be coached up properly and not thrown to the wolves.
“They do a great job of putting guys in positions to be successful, so my job was easy this week, I just had to take care of my gap and eliminate the dive in their read option game,” Mauro said. “Again, I just want to do my job at the high level that’s already been set here.”
Even though Arizona wasn’t able to come away with a win at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, falling 19-3 to Seattle, that didn’t stop head coach Bruce Arians from heaping praise on his newest defensive addition.
“Josh would’ve gotten a game ball if we would’ve won the game,” Arians said. “He played his tail off, stout at the point of attack. Really, really nice surprise.”
Asked to grade himself on his performance – which is always the hardest thing to do – Mauro thought he did pretty well, all things considered.
“Obviously, we didn’t win the game and that’s the most important thing,” Mauro said. “Individual performances on either side of the ball is irrelevant if you don’t win the game. We just want to come back this week and get back on the right track.”
It was an unusual circumstance Mauro was thrust in on Sunday. He didn’t know he was starting, and to heap on top of that, he was facing the world champion Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, which is one of THE toughest places for a veteran to play, let alone a rookie. Mauro took it all in stride and felt no additional pressure with all that weight on his shoulders.
“Every week you should have pressure on yourself to play at the level that is demanded here,” Mauro said. “I didn’t add anything else [with] the crowd or anything. Everyone here played in big games in college or [with] teams before this team. You can’t get caught up in all that.”
“I just wanted to go out there and zero in on my job and execute,” Mauro said.