A shutdown corner — a true shutdown corner — is lonelier than a sand salesman in the Sahara. And that’s what Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has become.
“I’ve done a really good job the last couple of years disrupting the timing between a quarterback and the wide receiver,” Peterson recently told Dan Bickley of azcentral.com. “They know when they watch film that Peterson is going to be in my No. 1 receiver’s face all day long. And when I’m in the receiver’s face, nine times out of 10 the ball is not coming my way. So I have to do different things so I can put myself in position to make plays.”
There’s not much that Peterson can do to supplement taking away the top receiver on the other team and doing other things. As Bickley notes, enhanced zone coverage or the emergence of another corner who can periodically handle the top receiver would help.
Peterson also could play some offense, something that gets mentioned from time to time but never really acted on. He last registered a catch or a rushing attempt in 2013.
Peterson still gets the ball in his hands on special teams from time to time, but he’s struggled recently to make an impact there.
“I always give credit to my teammates, and in my rookie year, I had a great group of guys in front of me,” said Peterson, who returned 13 punts and one kickoff in 2016. “I joke with them all the time. I tell them I can’t make 11 guys miss. I can make a couple, but not everyone. We have a lot of guys watching the show. I tell them watch the show on Monday. Don’t watch me return the ball.”
That sounds like a slap at his blockers, but Peterson has the charisma, along with the raw skill, to pull it off.
What he can’t pull off is remaining one of the best-known Cardinals when he’s not doing things to get noticed like David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Tyrann Mathieu. It sounds like, this year, Peterson wants to get back on the short list of faces of the franchise by doing more than what he’s done.