Arizona Cardinals DT Corey Peters can’t wait for training camp

Jun 1, 2016, 9:05 AM | Updated: 11:34 am
Arizona Cardinals' Corey Peters (98) works out during an NFL football training camp, Wednesday, Aug...
Arizona Cardinals' Corey Peters (98) works out during an NFL football training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Signed to a three-year contract, defensive tackle Corey Peters was among the more high-profile free-agent additions by the Arizona Cardinals last season.

Three weeks into training camp, however, he hurt his left Achilles tendon and was lost for the season.

The injury forced Peters to become a spectator and watch as his new team enjoyed its best regular season in franchise history, culminating with an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.

“It always sucks (to be on the sidelines),” he said Tuesday, the start of the Cardinals third and final week of organized team activities. “I tried to keep a positive mindset and to look forward as opposed to backwards. Last season was completely disappointing, but my focus since I got injured has been on putting my best foot forward in training camp, so I can’t wait for that to come.”

Peters called himself “somewhat full speed” right now, concentrating both on the field and in the weight room at building up strength, especially in his legs.

“I’d like to get another level of explosion,” he said. “That takes a while to come back, but as far as being able to do the necessary movements and everything that I’ll need to do, I feel comfortable doing that stuff.”

Head coach Bruce Arians noted they’ll “be real careful with (Peters) because of his history, but he should be more than ready to go” once training camp begins in two months.

Twice now in three seasons Peters has suffered an Achilles injury. Back in 2013, he tore the tendon in his right leg late in the year.

Peters, 27, joined the Cardinals after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he collected 172 tackles and 11 sacks in 70 games, including 55 starts.

“People don’t realize how much we could’ve used him last year. He makes our defensive line so much better; just his knowledge, his experience and his athleticism,” defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “You forget how special he was until you see him out here again.”

Peters’ healthy return is expected to only add to an already deep defensive line room.

Starters Campbell, Rodney Gunter and Frostee Rucker are all back as are key reserves Josh Mauro, Ed Stinson and Xavier Williams plus rookie Robert Nkemdiche.

“We feel really good about our defensive line,” Peters said. “It’s going to be a huge point (of emphasis) to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, especially with the way we like to play; a lot of man defense and that sort of thing. We got great pieces; great guys, great men, more importantly than football. I look forward to big things coming out of our group.”

Of the Cardinals 36 sacks last season, which ranked 20th, tied with Jacksonville, 11 came from the defensive line. The Cardinals hope to see that number increase in 2016, and it should with Peters now part of the rotation.

It’s been nine months since Peters got hurt.

The support of the organization, he said, made it easier for him to keep his head up and remain positive throughout the rehab process.

With his first season in the desert spent on the sidelines, Peters wants to make up for that time lost.

“Last year, I had a good understanding of what we were trying to do,” he said, referring to the defensive scheme. “I actually think that it fits me perfectly as far as my body type and what I do well, so I’m looking forward to kind of getting back in there this year and hopefully picking up where I left off.”

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