Peterson as punt returner — again

Posted by Darren Urban on June 2, 2017 – 8:54 am

An NFL lifetime ago, when Bruce Arians was simply a good offensive coordinator with the Steelers and the Cardinals were trying to turn Kevin Kolb into their long-awaited replacement for Kurt Warner, Patrick Peterson electrified the league with his punt returns. He scored four times that season and would’ve had five, were it not for a shoe-tip trip tackle in the season finale.

Peterson’s effectiveness at punt returning hasn’t been the same since. There are plenty of arguments why, whether it’s a safety issue — no one wants Peterson to become Jason Sehorn the sequel — or a blocking issue — Peterson intimated as much during an appearance on the “Bickley and Marotta” show earlier this week — or something else. But there is one thing Peterson still has that can’t necessarily be said for anyone else on the roster when it comes to punt returns. He has Arians’ trust.

Since Arians arrived the Cardinals have tried to find a legitimate replacement for Peterson on punt returns. Yet, as we stand here on the final day of OTAs, it looks like Peterson is headed for another season on the job. In a perfect world, the Cards would have a guy who could return kicks and punts, but rookie T.J. Logan should end up with the kick return spot and he’s never returned punts, and frankly, he probably shouldn’t start now. As excellent kick return man LaRod Stephens-Howling once emphasized, they are certainly not the same thing.

Smokey Brown is an option, although having your No. 2 receiver in harm’s way isn’t that much different than your No. 1 cornerback. J.J. Nelson has done it, but his double-whammy fumble/injury when he was doing it as a rookie in 2015 sticks in the mind. Nelson too is important to the offense and exposing his slight frame to more punishment would likely give pause.

Maybe it is as simple as getting Peterson better lanes within which to run. Maybe, as the Cardinals showed in 2015, as long as Peterson isn’t turning it over, that’s all they need in that part of the game. But getting a breakout return or 10 during the season wouldn’t be bad either.

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33 Responses to “Peterson as punt returner — again”

  1. By Dana on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    I hate to see Peterson used this way, especially when he is so critical to the defense. And remember that though Nelson has fumbled and is likely not as “safe” as Peterson, Peterson did fumble a punt in a playoff game against the Panthers at a time when it seemed the momentum may have been shifting a bit in the Cardinals favor. I would argue that with the depth of talent we have at the WR spot, Nelson would be a good choice to return punts, especially if he can gain significant practice at the spot in the coming weeks and months. When Nelson sees an opening — look out! And while I NEVER want to see a player injured, the Cards could better absorb Nelson being out for a game or two than they could if Peterson were out. Peterson being injured on a punt return is just much of a risk to take.

  2. By Big Ken on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Looking forward to seeing TJ Logan return kicks.

  3. By JTDG on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    I was watching “All or Nothing” last night and it was the one where the cards were beating up on the Eagles.

    Up by a bunch, with 2 minutes left Ty steps in front of a pass, picks it off and goes down with an ACL. I remember hearing some fans thinking , why was he even on the field with so little time and a blow out. I remember there was anger towards BA for “letting” him get injured.

    But if you asked Ty, Pat P, or any others, they want to be out there. This what they live for. (and quite frankly, trash time is stat time and stats equal big pay days) .

    The way I see it, Players play. You can’t go in worried about injuries. That is the GMs job and building depth. But players and coaches can not be caught up worrying if someone might get hurt.

    Truth is, Peterson can get hurt tackling a big back coming around the corner. So, lets have him not tackle anymore (some might say that has happened all ready). He could get hurt jumping and landing wrong (like Ty did), so, no more jumping for Pat. And maybe he shouldn’t use that 4.3 speed, coast to a 4.5 so you don’t pull a hammy. That would all be silly and stupid but truth is, he could still get hurt.

    They’re football players. Players get hurt. It is part of the game. So, if Peterson is the best punt returner we have , then he should be the punt returner.

    Knowing this, Keim needs to make sure we have depth at CB and a competent CB2.

  4. By jaime on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    just dont put the badger back there!!!

    why not ellington? with RB and WR now (both deep) one more “critical” position for ellington would be a plus (roster spot) plus he got speed great hands dangerous open field.

  5. By Darren Urban on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Jaime —

    RE: Ellington

    They looked at him a little in camp.

    It did not go well.

  6. By TucsonTim on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Hear we go with special teams drama!

    Peterson hasn’t been a good punt returner since his rookie year. Yes, he can generally be counted on to actually catch the ball but is it worth the risk….NO!

    This is a real head scratcher. Why? We’ve had the whole off season plus knowing that this is a problem area for the Cardinals.

    How about a new special teams coach? Because you obvious aren’t getting any good advice.

  7. By TucsonTim on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Here not hear…arggg

  8. By Bill Thompson on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    I have a good suggestion (that is if he makes the team, and he should based on special teams play). Give Brittan Golden a shot at returning punts; he’s an excellent gunner; he has played both offense and defense when needed. I think that he is durable and will do an excellent job. He has good hands and is hungry.

  9. By dobie on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    The short time Britten Golden return kicks he looked real good and he does good as a receiver but you got a lot of receiver looking for a spot right now

  10. By Matt on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Why is it that we haven’t heard anything about Jeremy Ross returning punts? He’s experienced and does not provide a depth issue.

  11. By Darren Urban on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Matt —

    RE: Ross

    Good question. Hasn’t gotten any reps that I’ve seen. May be a nod to his tenuous chances to make the roster.

  12. By joe holst on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    Chad Williams could do it, big, fast, explosive, physical.

  13. By dobie on Jun 2, 2017 | Reply

    A lot of this punt returns as to do with blocking and lately they have sucked at it may be has to do with the special team coaches I am not an expert just an observation

  14. By Brett Cardfan on Jun 3, 2017 | Reply

    Hello Darren, off this subject but how is Ironhead Gallon looking in the OTAs? Thank you for all the updates too

  15. By Darren Urban on Jun 3, 2017 | Reply

    Brett —

    RE: Ironhead

    Been fine. Hard to tell in part because with Budda Baker absent, numbers are skewed.

  16. By CARDS62 on Jun 3, 2017 | Reply

    I agree with Tuscon Tim. We knew this was a problem in 2016 so you better well address the issue and having P. Peterson return punts is no answer. I know players can get hurt anytime, but returning punts definitely increases the chances and honestly P. Peterson for what ever reasons has been a poor punt returner ever since his wonderful rookie season. So why risk him at something he is not even good at???. Right now our CBs on scale of 1 – 10 are a 10 for PP and a 2 or less for everyone else on the roster so we can just not risk the biscuit at this time or our season is over. JTDG you made me laugh as PP like Primetime does not really tackle running backs, but that is okay as we have 10 others to do that, but he is the only one we have to cover great receivers. The image of Earl Campbell on the sweep or that big KC Chief running back, Christian Okoya, on the sweep coming at PP came into my mind and I laughed as I could see PP wanting no part of them.

    TJ Logan did well returning kickoffs and he is suppose to have great hands so if you have great hands you should be able to field punts.

    I still have very little confidence in our special teams coach. Hope I am wrong.

    Chiefs just cut Jeremy Maclin WR formerly of the Eagles over money I believe. If the price is right I think he will be great for us. I remember him putting up big numbers as an Eagle last time we played him plus he took a major hit and returned to the game. I always liked his game.

    Just praying somehow we pick up a very good CB or two before our 3rd preseason game.

    Go Cards!

  17. By clssylssy on Jun 3, 2017 | Reply

    Hopefully, this will be a temporary situation with Peterson and maybe they’ll work Chad Williams into the role or use some of the guys who had more success late last season. However, it gets frustrating every year to hear all these great predictions and words of praise glorifying /justifying our draft picks, only have to go back to using our best playmakers in a variety of roles when the season starts. Recognizing there is a learning curve doesn’t seem to dispute the fact that the BASK philosophy is not to draft impact players but rather to gamble on possible future “diamonds in the rough”. There were a lot of things I didn’t like about Graves but it seems he was better at signing impact players.
    I saw a interview with Chris Johnson and it sounded like he would like to come back, showed a lot of class defending Carson and assuring the host that Carson was OK and would be just fine. We need him in the RB room and even Goodie saiad he would like to have him back.

  18. By Coach K on Jun 4, 2017 | Reply


    I would like to see TJ handle kickoffs and punt returns. Keep the starters on O & D off special teams if possible. Remember what happened to Honey Badger against the Rams.

    Special teams cost us 4 games last year. I hope this squad is improved dramatically this year.

  19. By Darren Urban on Jun 4, 2017 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Logan/punts

    It’s not that simple with Logan. He has never done it. Too many people think if you can do one job, you automatically can do the other.

  20. By Scott H on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    Not to take anything away from PP and his abilities, but….really? We don’t have a better option than him for punt returns??? You’ve gotta be kidding me. So….we risk injury to our BEST defensive player by putting him out there….and, let’s be honest – since he had that ONE great season doing it, he really hasn’t done anything of note as a return guy.

    Just seems like another need that was not addressed ( amidst all that aggressiveness we saw during free agency ) and now it’s just a matter of picking someone to try to do the job. Kinda like we’re doing with our CB2 spot.

    Honestly, I would have hoped we would have a better option for this than Peterson.

  21. By clssylssy on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    It would be great, probably too much to hope for, to get Macklin. I just read an article this weekend that said that he would make the most sense for the Cardinals opposite Fitz in Floyd’s old role, and since we neglected to address this earlier, seems like the perfect opportunity to pick up a bid, intense player before camp.
    We’re just finishing OTA’S, and hopefully someone of the rookies or other small speedsters will find a job on Special Teams as a return specialist. Just b/c a player has never done the job before seems kinda like a weak excuse this early into training. Tyler Lockett earned his place on the roster in Seattle as a return specialist, as he was a smaller receiver but had the other tools. Patrick P stood out his rookie season b/c of his returns so, a player doesn’t really need the NFL experience if he has the other tools. From everything that has been said about some of our new signees, seems like somebody will surely be able to learn the job.
    Getting Macklin would add some much needed size and intensity to our offense but, of course, he is going to want to get paid, which may take us out of the running. I would guess that he’lls either go to the Ravens or Eagles but it would be a nice surprise if the Card’s got him. He really helped elevate the Chiefs and I can’t believe they cut him!

  22. By D on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    Appears the Cards are around $15 mil in Cap Space and only H. Reddick left to sign. Let’s hope no injuries this week, if not I could see Mr. Keim sign 2 FA’s this summer.

    Areas that could be addressed:


    I would still put CB and PR as the Top 2 areas to add depth.
    Possible more higher paid name players maybe released in the next few weeks

    Names available/to watch right now:

    CB– B. Flowers, L. Hall
    PR- E. Royal, J. Norwood.

    (PP is too valuable to play Special teams, maybe another Vet signing will give BA confidence at this spot)

  23. By clssylssy on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    Need to make Corner and WR a priority. Cards don’t utilize TEs to get maximum value from them, more in a utility role as blockers; this is probably one of the biggest things I don’t like about the Arians offense (and his preference for small receivers who lack intensity and the intimidation facor). If all of our receivers could learn how to block and were durable enough our offense wouldn’t have to be so dependent upon an 0-line protecting Palmer. Hopefully, one of his little speedsters can work into the return role, maybe somebody new and trying to “make his bones” like Chad Williams. It seems that if a guy is really hungry enough to make the roster and get his foot in the door as a starter, this would be the golden opportunity rather than having to spend additional money to do a speciaty job.
    What’s the deal with Riddick, why hasn’t he signed yet?

  24. By JTDG on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H,

    Exactly. You see I am for Pat P returning punts if he is our best punt returner, but heck, why haven’t we found a punt returner all these years?

    Pat P’s big year was 2011. It’s 2017 now. Can’t believe no one has taken his job away.

  25. By Scott H on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    RE: Maclin

    Honestly, Maclin would be a total luxury for the Cardinals right now. Wouldn’t he?? With everyone healthy, we are 4-deep with good to great WR’s AND we just drafted a guy that we have to believe the team is excited about and is going to want to see get into the mix. So….where would Maclin fit? IMHO, it would be the same as Blount coming here to be behind David Johnson. Why is HE gonna do that when his opportunities to play are going to be limited? There are way too many teams out there that could give Maclin a much more prominent role.

    You speak of stepping into Floyd’s old role, but what about JJ Nelson and / or Jaron Brown??? Brown was standing out in camp last year before he got hurt and Nelson was emerging big-time in this offense over the last month of the season last year. Neither of those guys has Floyd’s size, so maybe neither fits THAT aspect of the role he played, but in terms of overall talent / production, I think either player is capable of producing what Floyd would.

    I say never mind Jeremy Maclin, we already have the guys we need right here! Palmer seemed to be gaining a lot of trust / faith in Nelson last year and Nelson’s production was on the up-swing. And his speed lends itself to the deep-threat type player that Floyd had been at times, but….definitely wasn’t last year.

    I think Nelson is poised for big things here. If he and Palmer can pick up where they left off….we ain’t gonna need Jeremy Maclin!

    I must admit, his release was a surprise to me, too. I think it was definitely a money thing. Which is another issue. I mean, I don’t think Maclin is gonna be a one-year deal bargain, ya know?

  26. By clssylssy on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    I guess I just am not that confident in our WR room b/c they are either returning from illness/injury or are small and lack any kind of intensity or intimidation factor, We don’t have anybody besides Fitz who is an all arounder, can block as well as come up with the big catches and be scary good doing it. Our receivers are not physical players in the way Macklin is, and who would make a great #2. Once again, we are putting all of our eggs in a very fragile basket and having JJ Nelson having to go up against Corners like Josh Norman just seems like a losing proposition despite his impressive stats. Why not mix it up a little so that we have a couple big bodied guys as well as mix in the little guys?
    I believe said that the Cards would make the most sense as a landing spot for Macklin because of the reasons stated above, not that we would sign him. Our receivers were also ranked #25 for the same reason and even counted our TE’s in that equation! I’m talking durability and intensity not production.
    Yes, money was a factor in KC with Macklin but there are teams who will pay him like the Ravens, Bills, Eagles, etc. I can tell you a lot of the Chief longtime season ticket holders would have rather lose Andy Reid than Macklin. Alex Smith was not real happy either. But, as the saying goes, if you want to win you have to pay/play!
    I think we have some good situational pllayers, JJ being one of them, however, I am skeptical about the durability of these small receivers I believe we need another impact player as a #2 receiver but don’t have any real expectation that will happen.
    I also think we need another RB b/c Arians will end up riding David into the ground on to IR just as he did Ellington, John Brown, and to some extent David last year…just say’n it’s a long season but WTH?

  27. By Scott H on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    I hear ya, girl. Bottom line, with Floyd gone, there is still a need for that “big” body at WR but we just don’t have that guy right now. Fitz – even in his 14th year – will continue to out-play everyone, we know that. But, shoot, he would probably do that on more than half the teams in the NFL right now!

    I may have more confidence in our WR corps, than you do at the moment….let’s just hope I’m right on this one! Hey, it happens once in awhile…..:)

    Nelson COULD have durability issues if he takes too many hits but….hey, as JTDG points out, any player could take 100 hits and have no injuries, while another player could take ONE hit and be done for the season. BUT, if healthy, I think Nelson can be very productive.

    If Smoky is truly back at 100%, we know how dangerous he can be.

    Jaron is the wildcard here. He seems to have all the talent and ability he needs. We just have yet to see what he can really be because he’s either been buried behind too many other stud players ( yes, Floyd DID appear to be one of those at one point ) or out injured. The overall caliber of this group might just hinge on what we get from him. He could be our 2nd best WR. Or, he could fall off the map. Who knows??? Until he plays enough, no one does.

    But I think any rankings that put our WR’s at 25th in the league are selling us way short. Heck this time last year, with Floyd still among the living, we would have ranked in the Top 8 or so, easy. So, with him gone, we fall that far? Sorry, I don’t think so. NOT with Fitz still playing at the level he is. Floyd was just never consistent enough to have made THAT much of a difference AND Fitz has not dropped off enough to justify such a plummet.

    Shoot, what am I saying – Fitz has hardly dropped off AT ALL!!!!

  28. By georgiebird on Jun 5, 2017 | Reply

    If Punt Returner means just catching the ball and not returning it- then PP will be great

  29. By clssylssy on Jun 6, 2017 | Reply

    This is similar to the articles recently on
    We all know that Keim promised to “be aggressive” in FA, which he did not follow through with, and a high priority for the draft was a replacement for Larry, also didn’t happen. FA still is open, and so it’s not too late to sign an impact player.
    While Maclin comes a little “gently used”, he still seems a better option than who we have waiting in the wings, and perhaps the previous injury could knock the price down. Hope doesn’t cost anything and is within the Card’s budget (and we still need to find a Fitz replacement, although that may be an unrealistic task)..

  30. By Scott H on Jun 6, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    Don’t mean to sell Maclin short because I think he is a talented player. But I have to disagree with the opinion that he is a better option than what we have waiting in the wings. Really, I’m not so sure he is. Just my humble opinion but I would not take Maclin in a straight up trade right now for Smoky, Jaron, OR Nelson. Heck, if nothing else, all of our guys are younger than Maclin is.

  31. By Dr. G. on Jun 12, 2017 | Reply

    jtdg – yeah, it’s the man who “knows” Peterson is over rated as a Punt Returner. I got a chuckle from your ((can he tackle comment)… His Rookie year was real impressive; after that is where he dropped the anchor. When you look at the past 2 seasons as a PR, he averages just 7.15 yards with 5 fumbles! We watched as he waved at the crowd with the ball in the air, and mostly ran for the side lines.

    He certainly has had the skill to get this done, but he hates “serious contact.” That is also why he is a bad tackler. It takes heart like the Badger or CJones. This injury conversation fits well with why Peterson wanted to go from RB to Defense so he could choose contact or not.

    We gotta identify the PR player with HEART and DESIRE to MOVE the ball…Coach is not finished with his evaluations yet… well

  32. By Dr. G. on Jun 12, 2017 | Reply

    Cards Fans….I forgot one little stat….Did I read where Peterson had 13 opportunities with 12 of which were FC (fair catches)? 2016 NFL stat! We don’t need that again….later, later….

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