GLENDALE, Ariz. – Patrick Peterson is downsizing.
No more wide receiver. No more running back. No more Wildcat, or “Pat Cat” as he liked to call it. His days as an offensive weapon are over.
“My duties are now done,” he said. “I’m completely okay with it.”
The Arizona Cardinals turned to Peterson last season in attempt to add more speed and a deep ball threat to the offense.
“We were a little slim in that position last year so I was a guy that could help out,” he said on Sunday, the second day of training camp. “Now that we have the weapons to help us out a little bit on the offensive side, I’m relieved.”
The addition of Ted Ginn, Jr., the drafting of John Brown and Walt Powell plus the depth at tight end mean Peterson’s services are no longer required.
“We’ve got some speed on offense now,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “It was glaring last year. There was a lack of straight line speed for us and we’ve addressed it and feel very, very comfortable that we don’t need Pat on offense anymore.”
Last season, Peterson caught six passes for 54 yards, rushed four times for 21 yards and completed one 17-yard pass in his one and only attempt.
Punt return duties — which earned Peterson the first of his three Pro Bowl selections following a record-setting rookie season — have also been taken off his plate.
No. 21 is now strictly a defender.
“I think that’s just going to take my game to another level now,” he said, “because now I don’t have to focus on the punt returns and I don’t have to focus on trying to remember the offensive plays and things like that. Now I can just hone in on playing defensive back and just being the best player that I can be.”
Was Peterson asked to do too much last year?
“No, it wasn’t too much,” he said. “It’s a different task just being able to now just focus on playing cornerback versus trying to remember this, trying to study all three phases when you have the No. 1 receiver. I mean, guarding the No. 1 receiver each and every week is tough enough as it is and have to worry about, ‘Okay, is the punter going to punt it this way or am I going to get an end-over-end (kick) this week or Coach has got five plays in the (offensive) package for me this week.'”
This will, perhaps, fuel the debate even further as to just who is the best defensive back in the game — a much-discussed topic in the offseason among Peterson, Joe Haden, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman and countless others through broadcast and social media.
“That’s going to go on for the rest of our careers,” Peterson said. “Do I feel I’m the best cornerback? Absolutely. That answer is never going to change, but at the end of the day, that conversation is always going to come up. I don’t believe any of those guys is going to say this guy is better than him. As a man, I can’t fathom putting another guy in front of me.”
Peterson, 24, is entering his fourth season after the Cardinals made him the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Over the summer, he was eligible for a contract extension, and while both sides discussed a deal, one was never reached.
“Not at all,” answered Peterson when asked if he was disappointed.
“I’m here to play football. I got two years left on my deal and I want to do the best I can to help this team win. I haven’t been to the playoffs since I’ve been here and that’s my first goal and that’s what I’m focusing on right now, just football. The contract stuff, if it happens, it happens.
“If it don’t, I have to continue playing football.”
Patrick Peterson punt return statistics