Tyrann Mathieu was answering questions today from fans via Twitter, when he was queried about taking at least some of the punt return action away from teammate/mentor Patrick Peterson:
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) July 15, 2013
It was the question that was inevitable once Mathieu was drafted. After all, Mathieu built his reputation in part in college on those punt returns. Just like his friend Peterson. But this goes beyond just Mathieu’s abilities. This goes to Peterson’s talents, his quest to be a perennial Pro Bowl cornerback, the Cardinals’ need for him to be that guy and stay healthy doing it, and also his sophomore slump when it came to returning punts.
Let’s be clear: Bruce Arians has talked a few times about the Cards taking advantage of a Peterson/Mathieu punt return combo. It could mess with some special teams coaches out there. It’s unfair to think Peterson was going to run four punts back for touchdowns every year, like he did as a rookie. But no one expected the step back last year, when he averaged only 8.4 yards a return with a long of 26 yards and spent a surprising amount of time misplaying the ball. He said often he wasn’t pressing, but then-special teams coach Kevin Spencer thought he was and certainly, it’s not like Peterson suddenly lost his ability.
There is no question Peterson wants to be back there, making plays and impacting the game. Now, if the defense is out there awhile, I can see Mathieu as the fill-in to give Peterson a rest. However good he is at returning, this team needs him as a cornerback — a very good cornerback — first, second and third. Especially with a guy like Mathieu available. Yet it’s tough to forget Arians’ comment a few months ago.
“(Patrick) can’t get his hands on the ball enough for me,” Arians said after he was hired. “As long as the other team is punting, he’s going to be back there. And hopefully they will be punting a lot.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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