Dealing Cards: Is Patrick Peterson having his best camp ever?
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals held their final practice of the week before preseason game No. 2, which will be Saturday at home against the Oakland Raiders.
The players were in shells, so the session was not necessarily as spirited as other practices and certainly involved less contact. Still, the Cardinals got some good work in, albeit with a handful of key players not taking part.
– With Carson Palmer getting another day off, Drew Stanton once again worked as the first-team QB.
– Karlos Dansby joined Deone Bucannon in not practicing, which meant the starting linebackers were Haason Reddick and Scooby Wright.
– J.J. Nelson came down with a diving catch of a deep Stanton pass early on in 11-on-11.
– Stanton had his share of connections with Larry Fitzgerald — who is still good, by the way — while also finding Jaron Brown for a touchdown in red zone work.
– Blaine Gabbert connected with Krishawn Hogan for some nice plays, while also finding Chris Johnson for a touchdown in red zone. Overall, the quarterback was once again fairly sharp on the day.
– It was clear how receiver Carlton Agudosi’s 6-foot-6 frame could come in handy, with him having a chance to catch multiple contested passes.
Couldn’t really tell what happened, but both Agudosi and lineman Daniel Munyer left before practice ended (at separate times). The receiver was taken off on a cart, whereas Munyer walked off with trainer.
Otherwise, Palmer had the day off following what was a scheduled and announced day off Wednesday, while WR Chad Williams (shin splints), CB Rudy Ford (hamstring), WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring), LB Jarvis Jones (back), OL D.J. Humphries (hamstring), $ LB Deone Bucannon (ankle) and LB Philip Wheeler were all held out of action.
Peterson’s best camp ever?
On Wednesday, Palmer said he felt Patrick Peterson was having his best training camp since the QB arrived in 2013.
Thursday, head coach Bruce Arians agreed with Palmer’s assessment.
“He’s in fantastic condition,” Arians said. “When John Brown is out there and J.J. (Nelson), that’s a lot of speed to work against and he also got some big guys to work against. He’s more than holding his own.”
The coach surmised a big part of Peterson’s motivation comes from wanting to be the best corner to ever play the game, which Arians said he has a chance to be.
Peterson said he feels pretty good, but added any sense of him being at the top of his game comes from his growth as a player.
“I think everything’s just clicking now,” he said. “Going into year seven, pretty much seen it all — been there, done that. I’m just all about continue perfecting my skill and getting better as I get older.”
The 27-year-old has established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the game, and with 20 career interceptions and six Pro Bowl appearances already under his belt, few would doubt his place among the game’s elite.
Or his standing on the Cardinals’ roster.
“Pat’s done such a great job with the leadership,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “In the locker room, in the meeting room.
“But when you see him practice on the field, his leadership on the field is just his actions; the way he’s practiced, the energy and effort he’s practiced with. But he’s having an outstanding camp, there’s no question.”
Bettcher feels Peterson is the best cornerback in the game, a rare player who can cover the opponent’s best receiver all over the field every week while being successful in doing so.
Peterson has never been shy about expressing confidence in himself, but said he will not allow himself to get complacent because when that happens, bad things follow.
He understands much of the team’s chances of success rest on his ability to consistently play at a high level, and the pressure that comes with that is something he relishes.
“If you want to be remembered and if you want to be somewhere that you can be forever, which is Canton, those are things that I can control and I want to make sure I continue to do that to continue building up that resume.”
Nkemdiche’s progress is real
There had been talk about Robert Nkemdiche’s improvement, but it was only words until he could prove it on the field.
Then, last week against the Dallas Cowboys, the second-year defensive lineman showed glimpses of what he could do when playing at a high level.
These days, Nkemdiche — whose rookie year was a wash, at best — finds himself receiving reps with the first-team defense. That does not make him a starter (and really, it doesn’t matter who starts games), but it does show the team is starting to believe that he has turned a corner.
“I think, number one, you see a 180 in terms of preparation like a pro,” Bettcher said of the defensive lineman. “Whether that’s taking care of his body, whether that’s in the meeting room, whether that’s probably outside the building, taking care of what he needs to take care of; because he is very physically gifted and talented, there’s no denying that. We see flashes of it.
“Right now, we’re looking just for a level of consistency — a day in, day out approach, a day-in, day-out execution level.”
Bettcher credits defensive line coach Brentson Buckner and pass rush specialist Tom Pratt for much of the young player’s growth.