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Assessing The Travels Of Patrick Peterson

Posted Feb 3, 2018

Frustrated with lack of interception potential, cornerback considers alternatives

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson breaks up a pass for Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans this season.

Patrick Peterson was already traveling this week, flying to Minnesota to make various sponsor-related appearances at the Super Bowl.

How much Peterson travels has become a popular topic of late.

Fueled in large part with the Pro Bowl cornerback’s frustration in not being named all pro and generally a lack of opposing teams throwing his way, Peterson is now considering something he wouldn’t just last season – “traveling” to cover the other team’s top wideout, at least a little bit less.

“Travel with the team’s best WR is what I do and what I’ve been doing since a rookie,” Peterson said via text. “Don’t want that to change too much. But on the other hand, I do want to be involved more with the game plan!”

Last season, Pro Football Focus listed Peterson as traveling to cover a particular receiver in 11 of the Cards’ 16 games.

It ultimately isn’t Peterson’s decision, of course. There is a new coaching staff. With head coach Steve Wilks’ background on the defensive side of the ball, he and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb will be the ones to figure out how they want to deploy their top cover man.

“I’ll tell you that one of the things we will do and I think one of the greatest things as a coach is that you’ve got to have the ability to listen, you know?” Wilks said. “When you start to talk about open line of communication, we’re going to listen to the players. Now, are we going to always do what they ask? No. I’m going to tell you that right off. But, we’re definitely going to be open to their ideas because once again, they’re out there, they’re seeing different things.

“With a guy that has that kind of talent, of course we want to make sure that we’re giving him every opportunity to be successful.”

This season, PFF charted 593 coverage snaps for Peterson. Teams threw at him only 60 times, giving up 28 catches for 394 yards and four touchdowns. His coverage snaps per target was 21.2. Only Cincinnati’s William Jackson – in almost 200 less coverage snaps – had a higher ratio.

Few targets means few chances to make interceptions, which ultimately is what frustrates Peterson – because he knows gaudy interception stats are what get all-pro votes and, eventually, Hall of Fame consideration. Peterson had only one interception this season.

“If a guy is getting 90 targets, he’s getting opportunities,” Peterson said on the Jim Rome Show this week. “I got targeted (60) times this year. That’s about my average the last three seasons. So how am able to make (a lot of) plays. Especially the way they are targeting me, with screens and picks.”

Cardinals Ring of Honor wide receiver Roy Green said this week during the Red Sea Report that one thing a team can do would be to double cover a team’s best receiver and then put Peterson on the No. 2 receiver, to change things up. That wouldn’t guarantee more targets necessarily.

Peterson was named first team all-pro in 2015. He acknowledged on Rome that team success likely plays a factor in the voting – the Cards were in the NFC championship that season, with two playoff-less seasons since – but he said he’d like voters to watch more game tape and “see how I affect the game.”

“What else do you want me to do?” Peterson said in a video posted to Twitter. “Put a sign over my head that says, ‘Try me?’ ”

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