Posted by Michael David Smith on May 24, 2012, 9:51 AM EDT
Cardinals cornerback and punt returner Patrick Peterson came in at No. 55 in NFL Network’s unveiling of the Top 100 players in the league, as voted on by their peers, and he says that’s a great place to be as a rookie. But he also says he wants to be in the Top 10 some day, and to do that he needs to be viewed primarily as a shutdown cornerback who returns punts on the side.
Peterson’s rookie season was one of the best seasons any punt returner has ever had, with 44 returns for 699 yards and four return touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime that was one of the most spectacular plays of the NFL season. Peterson knows that’s the primary reason he made the Top 100, but he also knows the reason the Cardinals took him with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft is that they want him to be an elite starting cornerback.
“I feel pretty good for my first season being at No. 55 but hopefully as my career progresses I’ll be looking to be in that Top 10 category somewhere,” Peterson said. “I definitely believe I made it through the record I set — tying the NFL record [for punt return touchdowns in a season]. I believe that’s primarily what got me in the Top 100. But this year I’ve been working more on my coverage skills and trying to be more of a shutdown cornerback versus that elite punt returner.”
Peterson started all 16 games at cornerback last season, but he struggled to adjust to the pro passing game. He acknowledges that he needs to improve in pass coverage.
“I expect to be a whole lot better,” Peterson said. “I can’t wait to get out there for the first game and showcase what I’ve been working for this offseason, finally put it to work and show the world what I can do.”
Peterson has already shown the world (or at least the portion of the world that watches the NFL) what he can do as a punt returner. If he can make the same kind of impact as a cornerback this year, he’ll be a whole lot higher than No. 55 on the Top 100 list next year.