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Cardinals CB Peterson excited to get back to press coverage

(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Opponents found Patrick Peterson’s role peculiar in 2018.

Playing in since-fired Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks’ zone-heavy defense, the star cornerback often found himself sitting back and playing behind wide receivers. The idea was to give him the ability to see more of the field, the chance to jump more routes and create more turnovers.

He recorded just two interceptions and five passes defensed (a career low) during Arizona’s ugly 3-13 campaign that included reports leaking Peterson’s dissatisfaction and request for a trade.

Now under first-time NFL head coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Peterson has optimism the Cardinals — and him returning to a familiar role — can flourish.

Arizona will go back to a 3-4 scheme that calls for more man-to-man, press coverage at the cornerback positions.

“I can put my hands on people now instead of playing off and trying to play with my eyes,” Peterson said Wednesday before teeing off in the Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Am.

“I love the idea of playing with my eyes, but I also love the idea better of putting my hands on receivers and slowing those guys down, letting those guys know it’s going to be a long day. Throughout the course of the season, it was receivers coming up to me after the game like, ‘Man, what the heck are you doing, man? It’s kind of funny watching you play seven yards off and playing with vision and back-peddling. It’s making our job easier.'”

Within days after reports of Peterson’s request to be traded became public, the cornerback patched things up with Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim. He admitted on Wednesday that his role in Wilks’ defense wasn’t ideal, and it played a part in his frustration.

He told reporters he feels good about the direction of the team, which hired the offensive-minded Kingsbury and placed him with an experienced DC in Joseph, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

“It’s no secret that we need some points on the board being one of the … bottom-five teams in points per game,” Peterson said. “I think the coaching staff (Kingsbury) hired, as well, is going to be very, very great for the defensive side of the ball.

“I think Vance was a great hire. Everywhere he’s been, his resume speaks for itself as well on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of new changes but hopefully it can be for the better this go-around.”

Peterson, like many Cardinals, felt confident that the first year of the post-Bruce Arians era would include more success than it did. And while the corner regrets how he handled last season, he at least has a more familiar role to slide back into under the second new coaching staff in two years.

“Starting out whatever our record was starting out, it was just frustration built up,” Peterson said of his unhappiness that reached a boiling point after Week 8. “That’s behind us now. I’m here as an Arizona Cardinal, under contract for two more seasons. We’ll see where it goes after that.

“Obviously, it wasn’t giving up on my teammates or anything like that. It was just a hard part of the season. It was something that I wished had never came out but it did. It’s behind us now.”

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