The Cardinals are giving cornerback Patrick Peterson a long look at receiver
When first-year coach Bruce Arians took over from Ken Whisenhunt this year, he never had any doubts about using Peterson on the offense – judging it would be a waste of talent to keep him standing on the sideline all the time, especially when the Cardinals have the ball.
"I had hopes that he could be something special in a package a week. But after you see the athlete he is, he probably could be one of the top five receivers in the league,” Arians said. “So you say, 'Hmm, that's a lot of weapon sitting over here next to me.'"
Arians obviously likes the idea of Peterson as a playmaking change-up to throw at defenses this season, and has set up plays to potentially get the ball in the 23-year-old’s hands more often this season. He said he’s already expanded the Peterson package to 15 plays, although Arians doesn’t plan to use the player in that many plays on the offense during a single game plan.
"But there's no doubt we're going to utilize his skill set on offense," Arians said.
And Peterson is all for it.
"I'm pretty dynamic with the ball in my hands," Peterson said. "I'm not saying the offense needs help. They have great talent over there. But I guess (Arians) just wanted more explosive plays from guys that could help."
"Now I get a chance to see what the receiver's point of view is in trying to attack defensive backs, and having that head start on defensive backs,” Peterson added.
Peterson played a little offense during his NFL career, recording three rushes for three rushes for 13 yards and four receptions for 10 yards. He also returned four punts for touchdowns as a rookie in 2011. Last season, Peterson didn't get to return a single punt for a score, but he did excel at cornerback, ranking fourth in the league with seven interceptions.
"If he wasn't playing corner, he'd probably be just as good a receiver or an H-back, a Percy Harvin-type player,” Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said of the dynamic player.
So, it’s obvious that Palmer is in favor of Peterson having a bigger role on the offense.
"Obviously he can be very effective with the ball in his hands, but he's also effective on the field as a decoy. We've got a pretty big package in for a guy that's a defensive football player,” Palmer said. “That's something you have to prepare for, something you have to think about and worry about. Whether he touches the ball every time he's on the field or he doesn't touch it at all, he's a threat and he's something the defense has to prepare for and account for."
With Javier Arenas in the fold this season and after drafting Tyrann Mathieu, both of whom can split punt return duties with Peterson, the Cardinals might have the All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler free to spend more time on the offense.
However, Arians added, "I don't really want to take too many touches away from him."
While Peterson was also quick to point out: “My primary position is cornerback."