BY: ED COLE
MESA, Ariz. — The only member of the #NoFlyZone to play with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson for the entire five years he’s been in the NFL was safety Rashad Johnson.
Johnson won’t be around to team up with Peterson for his sixth year. Instead, Johnson will be wreaking havoc in the Tennessee Titans’ secondary next season, after he signed with them for one season.
“Oh, (I’m) definitely sad that Rashad’s (Johnson) leaving us,” Peterson said. “It was a pleasure playing beside him, and watching him grow, and I’m quite sure it was the same for him, watching me grow as well. (It was exciting) just to see the level of success that he’s reached over the last three years, because the guy’s played phenomenal football, leading the team in interceptions the last two years (nine total), damn near in tackles too (151 tackles total in 2014-15), (and) being an all-around guy for us, and being a true, true soldier, losing a finger tip (lost tip of left middle finger vs. New Orleans Saints in 2013), (and) battling injuries week in and week out. The guy was a true, true warrior. He’ll definitely be missed, and I wish him nothing but the best with the Tennessee Titans.”
Peterson’s talked many times about the value of the relationships he and the rest of the Arizona secondary have forged over the last three years, ever since the regime changed with Steve Keim taking over as general manager, and Bruce Arians becoming head coach. To them, those relationships were invaluable, and a main reason why the group played so well together, because they genuinely loved each other, and had each other’s backs, not only on the field, but off the field as well once they left the Tempe facility, or they left University of Phoenix Stadium, or any other stadium on the road after a game.
Peterson says it’s going to be “different” in the locker room this season without his locker room neighbor, Johnson, next to him.
“Conversations (are) going to be different now,” Peterson said. “Now we have to get to know new faces, new names (and) new personalities. Now we have to get to know a whole new group, because it looks like we’re going to lose (cornerback) Jerraud (Powers) too. We’ll have to see what happens. I’m quite sure the guys we bring in (will be fine). (Cardinals head) coach (Bruce Arians) knows how to pick good players, (and) good, down to earth locker room guys, so I’m quite sure it won’t be hard getting to know the guys we bring in.”
Johnson revealed something that was “shocking” to Peterson. On Friday, Johnson joined Bertrand Berry, host of “Off the Edge with B-Train” on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, via Cardinals insider Adam Green, and he told Berry that he received “no offer from the Cardinals,” and that “there wasn’t even an option for me to come back here.”
Although it was “shocking” to Peterson that Johnson and the Cardinals had no dialogue about his return, he kind of saw the writing on the wall when the team made the deal to bring in former Raiders and Chiefs strong safety Tyvon Branch.
“At first, when we made that move (to get Branch) early in free agency, we definitely knew it was going to be a long shot of getting him (Johnson) back,” Peterson said. “Coach (Bruce Arians), he told me in the exit meeting that the defensive back room was going to look a little different (this coming season), so I knew it was going to be tough (brining Johnson back), but to know that they didn’t offer him (Johnson), that was kind of shocking and surprising.”
“The guys upstairs, they see something, so those guys make the decisions, and that is definitely out of my hands,” Peterson said. “It definitely was a shocker, but Steve Keim and Coach (Bruce Arians), those guys know what they’re doing. I’m just definitely looking forward to putting together another good season.”