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Patrick Peterson will return punts for Cardinals

Patrick Peterson wasn’t just a great cornerback at LSU, he also was a fantastic punt returner.

While he got the chance to field punts on Saturdays, with a multi-million dollar contract and a defense relying on his cover skills, some wondered if he’d be a part of the Cardinals return game on Sundays in 2011. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t see a reason why he wouldn’t be.

“We’ll integrate Patrick in there,” the coach told reporters Thursday. “He looks like a natural. Yesterday we did a punt return drill and he caught one and it’s pretty surprising to see how smooth he is. We knew that from looking at him on college tape but definitely he’s a weapon in that part of the game and we’re going to incorporate him into it.”

With the departure of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, it looks like Peterson will be thrown into a starting role on defense sooner rather than latter. Don’t expect that to effect how he’s used in the return game.

“I don’t know that [his defensive play] is going to impact it,” Whisenhunt said. “I think when you have a guy that is that special in the return game that you want to incorporate him. We’ll see how it goes. It depends on how many snaps he’s getting in the games and what his role is as far as playing. I think the big thing is he wants to do it.”

The Cardinals found their big play return man on kickoffs last year in LaRod Stephens-Howling. It sounds like they may have found their big play punt returner in Peterson.

ArizonaSports.com’s Craig Grialou contributed to this report


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