TEMPE, Ariz. — As a rookie, Patrick Peterson made his first Pro Bowl due to his prowess as a punt returner.
The cornerback out of LSU returned 44 punts for 699 yards and four touchdowns, which tied an NFL single-season record.
His numbers as a returner have declined each of the last two seasons, though, and as Peterson’s worth as a cornerback has grown, the team’s desire to have him return kicks has decreased.
And now, following what was a season-ending injury to Tyrann Mathieu while returning a kick last year along with the offseason additions of Ted Ginn, Jr. and rookie John Brown, it appears his time playing anywhere but on defense may be coming to an end.
“We’d like to ease that up a little bit anyway, just because of what happened to Tyrann and let him just focus on taking out receivers and doing his job there,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday. “But, also, he’s still dynamic enough to do it.
“His wide receiver days might be over.”
Peterson was targeted eight times in the passing game last season, producing six catches for 54 yards.
When he was drafted, the Cardinals needed the speed as a returner. Last season, they needed it in the passing game. Peterson provided both.
But with the additions of Ginn, who has amassed 7,767 yards and six touchdowns as a returner in the NFL and now Brown, who averaged 11.5 yards per punt return and 32.4 yards per kick return last season at Pittsburg State, it appears the Cardinals can get by without using their top cornerback anywhere but on the opponent’s best receiver.