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Camp K notes: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals still confident in CB unit

Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 (L) of the Arizona Cardinals stands with teammates during a NFL team training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals don’t appear worried that Vance Joseph’s dream of running out his ideal defensive scheme has withered away with a likely season-ending pectoral injury to cornerback Robert Alford.

Yet they are doing more than due diligence in scanning the free agent market and waiver wires for corner depth. Arizona signed cornerback Ken Crawley and nickel B.W. Webb on Friday, and it is expected to host former Cincinnati Bengal Dre Kirkpatrick for a workout, according to reports.

As the roster upgrades have been in motion, the internal battle for a No. 2 cornerback able to play a press man scheme has turned into a competition to find a new No. 1 nickelback — at the least it’s given the Cardinals a look at some prospects.

No. 1 cornerback Patrick Peterson, the only given in the cornerback group, said Friday that nickelback Byron Murphy was getting all of the first-team reps outside.

“I have all the trust in the world with Murphy. He can play outside, inside,” Peterson said. “Wherever we put Murphy, he’s going to be excellent. He’s a great inside guy and he’s gained more and more confidence throughout this camp being outside, making a ton of plays outside. Very, very detail-oriented when it comes down to his press coverage, sticking to his leverage.

“We’ve been plugging guys in at the nickel position to see who can play there just in case we have to keep Murphy outside.”

The Cardinals signed former New York Giant Webb on Friday to see if he can fill in as a nickelback. Later, they placed Alford on IR and officially added Crawley.

They’ve given snaps to in-house candidates like undrafted rookie and Arizona Wildcat product Jace Whittaker, who Peterson said is playing “phenomenal.” Second-year pro Jalen Davis, who was with Arizona last year, is “playing some great ball right now,” Peterson added.

Finding a starting-caliber cornerback this late in the offseason would obviously mean Arizona can happily slide Murphy back into his more natural nickelback spot. But doing that could come down to the money.

So in the meantime, the Cardinals are tinkering with their young guys in the slot.

“We feel like we have some numbers, whether it’s nickel or corner, and now it’s kind of fitting in those spots what gives us our best chance, our best 11 on the field at one time,” Kingsbury said. “I think as a staff we’re working on that to see where it goes. It’ll be good battles for those spots.”

Peterson raring to go

As for Peterson, he has come back laser-focused.

The 30-year-old said his offseason “was one of the hardest” in terms of the grind as he fights against the narrative that he’s lost a step. While the eight-time Pro Bowler said he’s not losing his burst, he knows at some point he’ll be fighting against age.

“I don’t necessarily feel like I need to prove anything,” Peterson said. “I just want to go out there and play at a high level. I just think some people forgot what I bring to the table, what I bring to this team, what I mean to the cornerback position. Some say I may have lost a step. (I) feel like I’ve gained a couple. This year is going to be fun. The focus level is on another level, the intensity level is on another level.

“Putting my body through certain situations this offseason was very different than my previous offseasons. I’m just ready, man, just very focused, extremely dialed in.”

Enjoying the AC

The Cardinals won’t venture onto their outside practice fields this training camp for a few reasons, Kingsbury said.

Last year, the team went outside State Farm Stadium and put together some less-than-clean early morning practices. The Cardinals also lost Alford to a broken leg during one of those brief sessions.

“We tried it last year,” Kingsbury said. “It was not a very good day for us so I kind of threw that out this year and tried to learn from it. We’re just going to keep it inside.”

Also, if you haven’t been, it’s been very hot outside.

“We don’t expect to be playing at 120 degrees at any point this season so felt like we could avoid that this year,” Kingsbury added.

Extra points

— Tight end Maxx Williams was not in the open portion of practice for the second straight day, and Kingsbury said the lack of reps has been good for backup Darrell Daniels.

— Kingsbury expects one of the two additional practice squad spots will go toward a deep receiver room. It increased from 10 to 12 players before coronavirus led to another addition allowing for 16 practice squad players. Four players each week are protected from being poached by other teams.


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