Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson has developed into one of the premier defensive backs in the league, but he’s struggled at what used to be his calling card: returning punts.
In Peterson’s rookie year, he returned 44 punts for 699 yards and four touchdowns, earning him first-team All-Pro honors. However, he has seen his production decline in the last two seasons, and had some serious issues on punts Sunday in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, highlighted by a muffed punt.
“He had two poor decisions,” head coach Bruce Arians told Arizona Sports 620’s Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Monday.
“He needed to make better decisions back there and we’re going to talk a little bit about how we’re returning the football and improving the area.”
This season, Peterson has has returned 24 punts for 161 yards, which ranks 17th in the NFL. His 6.7 yards per return places him 20th out of the 23 eligible players.
While Peterson still possesses elite playmaking ability, with the value he provides at corner and his recent struggles, it might make sense to turn to another player with return experience. Arians said they will explore their options.
“Tyrann (Mathieu)’s done it, but he’s playing some 60 plays a game too right now,” the coach added. “Javier (Arenas) has done it. We have a number of returners we could possibly put back there.”
However, Arians made it clear Peterson is their first choice if the third-year pro can return to form.
“We’d like to straighten it out with Pat because he can hit the home run.”