In just two short seasons in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson has already made two NFC Pro Bowl teams, turning what usually is a tough career feat into an annual habit.
However, while Peterson will make his second straight trek to Honolulu for the league’s All-Star showcase on January 27, his path to getting there was very different this time around.
As a rookie in 2011, Peterson was voted in as the conference’s starting return man, after the former No. 5 pick took the league by storm with a record-tying four punt returns for touchdowns (all of which were over 80 yards).
This season, Arizona’s return specialist has been held out of the end zone through 15 games, but has still found ways to terrorize opposing teams with his play-making skills in the Cardinals’ secondary.
Despite lining up against some of the league’s best receivers in 2012 (DeSean Jackson, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Michael Crabtree), the former LSU star has picked off seven passes (second-best in the NFL) and pushed Arizona’s defense towards the top of the league in takeaways (33).
“That’s huge, because at the end of the day [cornerback] is my primary position,” Peterson said of getting voted in as a Pro Bowl starter. “That’s a huge accomplishment for me.
“I want to continue getting better each and every year. Now my goal is to go there every year as a cornerback.”
While Peterson has lofty ambitions for the coming years, head coach Ken Whisenhunt was just happy his star corner was acknowledged in 2012.
“I’m excited for Patrick, and I think it’s well-deserved,” Whisenhunt said. “I think the thing that has been overlooked, is that most of the time he has been matched up against the best player we’ve gone up against. And he’s fared well.”
Whisenhunt added that Peterson’s national recognition is also something the organization can be proud of.
“[His skills at cornerback] are why we drafted him,” said Whisenhunt. “He was one of the guys we felt really good about coming out, and he’s certainly lived up to that.”
In addition to his seven interceptions, Peterson has 15 pass deflections and 53 totals tackles this season.