The best passing defense in the NFL last season hasn’t lost a step, if anything can be concluded from the Arizona Cardinals’ first two preseason games.
The Cardinals, who allowed a conference-low 3,441 yards in 2012-13 while intercepting 22 passes, have picked off four passes through their first two preseason games. The team’s head coach and the secondary’s best player believe that’s no coincidence, despite the change in personnel over the offseason.
Good hands, head coach Bruce Arians, are a defining characteristic of the unit.
“Some guys are defensive backs because they couldn’t play wide receiver,” Arians said Tuesday. “That’s why they got put at DB in college, because they couldn’t catch.
“We don’t have that problem. We’ve got guys who could all play wide receiver.”
One such defensive back Arians was referring to, Patrick Peterson, will be a wide receiver this season. And the third-year pro agrees — he’s not the only one who can catch.
“The defensive backs here now take pride in catching the ball,” said Peterson following Tuesday’s practice.
“We don’t want to be known as the typical defensive backs that can’t catch balls or can’t secure the catch, always tipping down balls and things like that.”
The 15 cornerbacks and safeties on the Cardinals preseason roster have a combined 38 interceptions over 36 NFL seasons. And undrafted rookie Tony Jefferson had a pair of picks in Saturday’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Every tipped ball should be ours,” Arians said.