Cardinals captain, ‘quiet dad’ Corey Peters leads D-line into 2019
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph calls Corey Peters a “quiet dad,” and it’s meant as a compliment.
Joseph admitted Thursday that he refers to Peters as such because “he’s really quiet until somebody acts up. Doesn’t speak often but when he does, you know he’s serious about it.”
Like anyone, Peters doesn’t really dig the connotations. Dads are no fun, all about rules, always serious.
But Peters did admit that a similar tag has been placed on him outside the Cardinals locker room.
“Some of my wife’s friends call me Father Corey,” he said.
Either nickname is meant as a term of endearment, of course. He’s well-liked.
The proof — at least on the NFL team — came this week when the Cardinals revealed that Peters and outside linebacker Chandler Jones were named two of the team’s five captains this year, joining receiver Larry Fitzgerald, center A.Q. Shipley and punter Andy Lee.
The spotlight heading into 2019 will be on the defensive captains, especially.
Their reliability will be paramount for a group that due to injuries, suspension and cuts has a few too many holes to feel comfortable about.
“I’m not sure totally where we are as a defense,” Joseph said Thursday. “Obviously we had some good parts of the preseason, we had some bad. I watched my first unit have some success, not have success. We’ll see with a full gameplan and a full week of work how it looks.”
Joseph credited Jones and Peters for showing up to every spring and training camp practice. That leadership, he said, made them the “perfect” players to be named captain.
Jones has 41 sacks over three years in Arizona and returns to an outside linebacker position in Joseph’s 3-4 defense. His play speaks for itself.
Peters, 31, is coming off his most productive of three years (51 tackles, seven stuffs) and is back playing as nose tackle. His role as leader-by-example takes a front seat after the Cardinals cut projected starting defensive end Darius Philon and potential starter Robert Nkemdiche, who both faced off-the-field issues this summer.
Arizona is attempting to integrate rookie Zach Allen at defensive end. And for depth, Joseph is hoping waiver pickup Jonathan Bullard and late free agent addition Clinton McDonald can add experience.
For Peters, that doesn’t press him to be more urgent about getting guys caught up. He’s not one to jump on players for mistakes in such a fast sport, preferring to pull players aside for one-on-one talks if he notices repeated slip-ups.
Otherwise, he leads by working.
“I’m very serious about my job and trying to keep it,” Peters said of his style.
“I just kind of go about my business and try and prepare myself to play and make myself available to them, not only with the football stuff but just transitioning to a new city.”
As the Cardinals prepare to begin 2019 against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, they can only hope the defensive front can provide solid work.
It would take a lot of pressure off the other position groups that have their own questions.
Arizona expects Jones and veteran pass-rusher Terrell Suggs to put pass-rush pressure on opponents, and the safety duo of D.J. Swearinger and Budda Baker has plenty of NFL tape to feel good about.
But starting linebacker Haason Reddick is coming back from missing almost all of training camp due to a knee injury — he will play Sunday but could split time with backup Joe Walker. The losses of starting cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (broken leg) make the success of each other position group that much more imperative to hold the defense together.
After the losses along the defensive line, Peters is joined by Allen and fifth-year pro Rodney Gunter, an unheralded re-signing who had a career year in 2018 with 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Arizona made a late charge to patch some holes behind those starters.
Bullard, a 2016 third-round pick by the Chicago Bears, has 46 games of experience and 62 tackles as a reserve in his first three NFL seasons.
McDonald, 32, had 31 tackles and two sacks in 2018 with the Oakland Raiders.
They join Michael Dogbe, a seventh-round pick who progressed as a defensive end, and undrafted rookie nose tackle Miles Brown as depth.
Peters, for what it’s worth, said he feels confident about the players in the room.
“There are no bad apples in our bunch so it’s easy to talk to guys about corrections or things that need to happen,” he said.
ILB Reddick will play
Listed as limited in practices Wednesday and Thursday, Reddick will play as an inside linebacker and has regained his explosiveness this week, Joseph said.
That said, the defensive coordinator knows Reddick will be rusty having sat out since the start of training camp.
“(Sitting out) does affect the eyes, it affects your run reads, all those things,” Joseph said. “We have Joe Walker playing some. He looks good in there also. We’ve got some options there. As far as Haason, he’s going to have a role for us. Obviously in coverage in sub downs, he’s the perfect backer for us ’cause he can run and cover. He can also rush.
“Even though he missed a lot of camp, he’s going to have a role Sunday.”
Fitz tips offense’s hand
Larry Fitzgerald, finding his inner Dr. Seuss when describing what head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will look like after playing vanilla all offseason: “Some runs and some passes. We’re going to do some huddling, we might do some no-huddle. We might throw it deep, we might throw it short, to the right and to the left, probably some over the middle.”