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Jim Trotter
September 03, 2012
Patrick Peterson
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September 03, 2012


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Patrick Peterson


Veterans are often slow to throw superlatives on young players for fear they might lose focus or become complacent. The Cardinals, however, can't stop gushing about the 22-year-old Peterson, who as a rookie last season tied an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns. "He's going to be special [on defense]," says All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald. "Really special." Peterson, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft but had no off-season workouts with coaches because of the lockout, admits he struggled at the start of the season and was mostly playing off his natural ability in Arizona's first eight games. But the 6'1" 209-pounder dropped 10 pounds this off-season to improve his bursts and help him keep up with the league's top receivers, and he says he now has a better understanding of his role in the Cardinals' defense and how opponents will attack him. Peterson is more aware of where his help is on the field, he says, which keeps him out of problem areas. "He wants to be great, both as a returner and a corner," says defensive coordinator Ray Horton. "He has everything that [Jets All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis] has. He's got height, bulk, speed and power, plus he has the soft hands of a wide receiver. Peterson's got everything. He's a coach's dream."