By: Kayla Mortellaro
TEMPE, Ariz.,— Patrick Peterson is the subject of this edition of Cards Camp Spotlight on The Blitz with Rich Gray heard weekdays at 2:15 p.m.
Patrick Peterson entered the league four years ago as the Arizona Cardinals fifth overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Immediately, Peterson made a positive impact on the field for the Cardinals. His first play from scrimmage in the first preseason game of 2011, Peterson intercepted Philip Rivers and returned it for a touchdown, indicative of what was to come for him in a Cardinals uniform.
Week one of the regular season, Peterson showed off his dynamic vision and burst of speed as a punt returner. He took a Carolina Panthers’ punt back 89 yards to give the Redbirds the lead and the eventual win.
At the end of his rookie season, Peterson became the first player in NFL history to record four punt returns for touchdowns of 80 yards or more. His cornerback duties impressed as well as he started all 16 games, recording one sack, 64 tackles, had two interceptions, and defended 13 passes.
By the time 2014 rolled around, Peterson was a two-time Pro Bowler, had recorded 161 tackles, racked up 12 interceptions and defended 42 passes.
The Cardinals were sold on Peterson being the future of the defense and rewarded him with a five-year contract extension on July 29, 2014. The deal was worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed and a $15.3 million signing bonus.
But during the 2014 season, Peterson’s numbers were good but not great as he recorded 50 tackles, picked off three passes, and pass defended seven balls. However, he seemed sluggish and clearly not the same player on the field as he was the previous years.
After the season concluded, Peterson announced he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I definitely have the diet under control,” Peterson said Monday at Cardinals 2015 training camp. “As of right now, I did get tested again. I had Type I[I], so it was reversible, so as of right now, I am diabetes free. I still have to make sure I watch what I eat, my sugar level, take my blood pressure and things like that.”
Peterson admitted that initially the prognosis scared him.
“Especially when you’re first finding out about something like that, you think its life threatening but it’s definitely something controllable,” Peterson said. “Me and Tom Reeves [the team doctor], have been doing a great job of monitoring and I’ve been great so far. I’m ready to move forward, ready to get the season going. Enough about last year. Ready to get the 2015-2016 season going.”
In just four days at Cardinals training camp, Peterson is noticeably thinner, more fit, and moving around better.
“I feel great, this is probably the best I’ve felt in a while,” Peterson said. “I’m moving real well, much leaner, and I feel much quicker.”
Not only does Peterson’s health allow him to get back to form of his first three years in the league, but he has a determined mindset to be the best.
“I feel that my time is now,” Peterson said. “The clock is ticking and I have no more time to waste. I have to make sure I put my best foot, my best effort forward each and every Sunday and every time I step out onto the field.”
In addition, head coach Bruce Arians is excited to have his cornerback return to the field healthy and as motivated as ever.
“I think he was disappointed in the criticism, which was rightfully so early in the year last year,” Arians said. “But then in the last few games, he played as good as anyone in the league. But he’s always motivated to be the best.”
And in order to get back to playing his best, Peterson plans to play with a chip on shoulder.
“I mean, I have a chip on my shoulder at all times,” Peterson said. “No matter if I had a good year or had a bad year, not only am I coming in this year with an extra chip on my shoulder because of the way I played last year. I just felt that last year, for myself, it was self -disappointing. I just feel for myself I didn’t play to the best of my ability.”
Peterson, however, refuses to make his diabetes an excuse for his performance on the field last season. And he vows to be in top physical form to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals.
“I wasn’t physically able to put myself in the position to make plays,” Peterson said. “I was just a step behind from making those plays and that was due to my weight. That was due to the sluggish movements and things like that. Now that all that is under control and that’s behind me, that won’t happen again.”
The Blitz with Rich Gray can be heard weekdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. with the Cards Camp Spotlight every day at 2:15 p.m.