By: Rich Gray
Patrick Peterson enters his fourth season in the National Football League as one of the game’s elite cornerbacks. The Arizona Cardinals expect Peterson to only get better in 2014, as his roles on offense and special teams have been eliminated.
“We’ve got some speed on offense now,” head coach Bruce Arians said laughing. “We’ve addressed it and feel very comfortable that we don’t need Patrick on offense.”
It’s encouraging the Cardinals now feel their roster is deep enough to take away some of Peterson’s responsibilities. Still, the move is not totally unexpected.
First, there’s the risk factor. The snaps Peterson takes on offense and the more punts and kicks he fields, equals more wear on the body and risk for injury. Secondly, it’s not like Peterson has been spectacular on offense and special teams anyway.
In his breakout rookie season, Peterson had 699 return yards and returned 4 punts for touchdowns. Since then, Peterson has 572 return yard and zero touchdowns. Of course, you have to acknowledge how teams have adjusted to him during the past two years.
Peterson’s offensive plays in 2013 were also a mix bag. Peterson rushed for 21 yards on four carries and caught six passes for 54 yards. Average numbers, but again, when Peterson was on the field, defenses were ready for him. Not to mention how confusing thing got on sidelines on Game Days.
“It was hard to find him sometimes,” Arians said. “He was doing his job [on defense] and then it was ‘Hey, you’re in on this next play.’ As a play caller, you never get that far ahead.”
As for Peterson, he’s excited to focus on his duties at corner.
“I think it’s just going to take my game to another level,” said Peterson. “It makes things that much easier now. I can just got out there, hone in on my craft and just get better.”
“That’s going to continue for the rest of our careers,” said Peterson. “I love it. It’s going to make us that much better. I don’t have anything against [Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis and Joe Haden]. I’m in the same position they’re in, just trying to get better and help their team win Super Bowls.”
Even with the addition of Antonio Cromartie, Peterson is still going to roam the field, covering opponents’ number one wide receiver, something that sets him apart from other corners like Sherman.
Sherman and Haden both received contract extensions in the offseason, something that certainly caught Peterson’s attention. For now, Peterson is letting his agent handle contact negotiations while he focuses on something he has yet to achieve in the NFL; reach the playoffs.
“I’m here to play football,” Peterson said. “I want to do the best I can to help this team win. The contract stuff, if it happens, it happens.”
The Cardinals secondary has become one of the best in league because of Peterson. Now that he is not being pulled in different directions, Peterson and that secondary should only get better. A scary thought for quarterbacks around the NFL.