Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has just two NFL seasons under his belt, but already he’s become somewhat an icon around the Valley.
Peterson, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011 as a punt returner and in 2012 as a cornerback, told the media after the Cardinals’ Organized Team Activities Wednesday that it’s reached the point he can’t even go grocery shopping without being noticed.
All and all, though, he said the newfound popularity is flattering.
“It’s big for me, because now I know I have a fan base,” Peterson said. “The fans are starting to recognize me. I just want to do the best job I can do on the field and for the community, to not only get back into the winning ways but a helpful citizen as well.”
The attention is nothing new for the former No. 5 overall pick. After blossoming into a first-team All-American in 2010, Peterson had plenty of practice dealing with starry-eyed fans in Baton Rouge.
“I’m pretty used to it, especially coming from LSU. The fan base is pretty huge there,” said Peterson. “It was pretty much the same way there when I used to go out to the mall or Walmart, ‘Oh that’s Patrick Peterson’ and they’d want a picture. I try to do my best to please the fans and make those guys happy. It’s not anything I have to adjust to, it’s something I’m used to.”
Something Peterson will have to adjust to in 2013 is being the lone returning starter in the Cardinals’ secondary.
With the offseason departures of Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and William Gay, and the additions of Antoine Cason, Tyrann Mathieu, Jarraud Powers, Yeremiah Bell, the unit is more or less his to lead.
“Being the vet sorta to say in the secondary is huge,” said Peterson. “It’s a lot of first-year starters in the back end as a Cardinal. I’ve just been giving these guys expectations around here, how we carry ourselves and what we want to do as a unit to be successful in the upcoming 2013 season.”
Although he admittedly still has room to grow in both the secondary and in the return game, Peterson has quickly become not only a defensive leader for the Cardinals, but one of the faces of the franchise.
It’s a progression Peterson said has been aided by his relationship with teammate and seven-time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald.
“I talk to Fitz all the time,” said Peterson. “We talk about everything, it’s all about carrying yourself in a mannerable way. It’s making sure you’re always respectful to everyone — even you guys (the media), even the janitors.
“It’s all about respect and getting to know people. Fitz has definitely carried me on the way. He’s been the face of the franchise for many years. Now I’m here, not to push him over or take his position, just take the pressure off him a bit.”