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Tired of holding back: Patrick Peterson talks role change and All-Pro snubs

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals defensive back

Patrick Peterson is over being snubbed.

The result of that: Expect him to be more candid when he asked about himself.

After the Arizona Cardinals cornerback picked off two passes in the Pro Bowl, an MVP snub in such a little-watched game may not have been a battle worth fighting. But it was a microcosm of what Peterson feels is disrespect.

“That’s when it kind of pushed my buttons,” he told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Thursday. “I’m tired of holding it back of being this nice guy or saying what I think people want to hear. They put a chip on my shoulder, for sure.”

Well-known for opposing teams throwing away from him, the three-time All-Pro recorded 34 tackles and one interception in 2017. Both were career-lows.

And in the end, he didn’t earn his fourth All-Pro honor.

To put it bluntly, he’s not happy about it.

“I know why offensive coordinators don’t throw my way,” Peterson said. “I mean, I know why, but I want them to throw my way a little more — I want to show up on the stat sheet, too. I want to be involved, too.

“I’m at that stage in my career now. I have to be involved in the defense more, somehow, some way because I’m a play-maker, man. I’m tired of being handicapped of just taking guys out of the game.”

He might get his chance. The opportunity to work under first-year head coach Steve Wilks, a defensive backs coach by trade, is appealing to Peterson.

Peterson has yet to sit down and discuss the how Wilks and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb will deploy him differently than outgoing DC James Bettcher, but he hopes it includes a more varied role game-by-game.

“The last time I had a defensive coach that was pretty much a defensive back was Coach Bowles (the former Arizona defensive coordinator),” Peterson said. “To now have another guy like that going into the prime of my career, it’s gonna be scary.”

Wilks’ former players believe Cardinals like Peterson will enjoy playing for their new coach.

Wilks’ cornerback mentee, Josh Norman, told Peterson over Twitter that Peterson would love playing for the new Cardinals head coach. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly backed that up Thursday.

“He was willing to connect with guys on a personnel level,” Kuechly told the NFL Network. “He really knows his players and what makes them tick, and I think that will help them out.”

At the least, Peterson will hope Wilks can help him make more plays by varying his role.

Sometimes he’d like to blitz. Other times, he’d like to move around.

“If we have an Odell Beckham or Julio Jones for that week, now, I know what my task is going to be,” Peterson said. “That is a primary target in their offense.”

Peterson said he’s over the Pro Bowl snub, though he did use his two-pick day to re-imagine what it’s like to see passes thrown his way.

When it comes down to it, Peterson feels he’s been penalized for opposing quarterbacks often refusing to test him at all.

“The only reason I was really upset (after the Pro Bowl) is because I don’t know honestly what much more I can do for my play to be recognized, because two years in a row I feel I’ve been robbed of All-Pro — no disrespect to the guys who made All-Pro, they’re definitely rightfully so — but for me not to be picked any of those years, that’s just baffling to me. Baffling.

“For me to have to be the least-targeted corner the last three seasons, I get targeted every 22 pass plays. There’s only 32 pass plays a game. How can I make any plays when another guy who’s making All-Pro, they’re making 90 to 100 targets, when I’m only getting 56? It’s difficult for me.”

HOPEFUL FOR LARRY

Add Patrick Peterson to the list of those close to Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald who believe the 14-year veteran will return in 2018.

“We have a no football rule on the golf course,” Peterson said. “But my gut feeling with Larry is he’ll be back.”

That belief is shared with former coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Kurt Warner, who each said Fitzgerald will likely return if Arizona sets the roster up for a promising 2018 season.

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