The Cardinals may have a new coach, but Bruce Arians will be sticking with the old way of how the team was returning punts – Patrick Peterson will remain that guy.
“He can’t get his hands on the ball enough for me,” Arians said, chuckling. “As long as the other team is punting, he’s going to be back there. And hopefully they will be punting a lot.”
Peterson’s sophomore campaign as a punt returner didn’t come close to measuring up to his Pro Bowl-earning rookie season, even as his play as a cornerback elevated to Pro Bowl status. Teams were much more leery of kicking to Peterson in 2012, and it probably didn’t help that one of his key blockers — defensive back Richard Marshall — wasn’t around after leaving as a free agent to go to the Dolphins.
On 51 returns in 2012, Peterson averaged 8.4 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown and his longest return was 26 yards, which he did twice. Compare that to 2011, when he had four touchdowns and averaged 15.9 yards on 44 returns and he had seven returns of at least 29 yards. Inevitably, teams were going to shy away from him.
Not that it matters to Arians.
Peterson will return “until he waves me off and says, ‘Coach, can I take a blow?’ ” Arians said. “That’s a scoring opportunity every time.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson, Richard Marshall
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