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Fitz, Peterson Set As Pro Bowl Foes

Posted Jan 22, 2014

With new "draft" for NFL all-star game, Cardinals' stars could battle one-on-one

Cornerback Patrick Peterson, picked by Deion Sanders in the new version of the Pro Bowl draft, has a chance to cover Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald -- chosen by Jerry Rice -- in Sunday's game.

For the past three seasons, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald went toe-to-toe on a weekly basis, but did so in the closed confines of Cardinals practices. On Sunday night, they could very well match up in front of a national audience.

A new format put all of this season’s NFL Pro Bowlers into a fantasy draft pool, breaking the conference allegiances used in past games. On Tuesday and Wednesday, former superstars Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice selected teams from scratch, with Peterson heading to Team Sanders and Fitzgerald to Team Rice.

It didn’t take long for the pair to realize the circumstance, and while Peterson said he’s used to guarding Fitzgerald, he couldn’t resist a little trash talk in an interview with the NFL Network following the selections.

“I think we bring the best out of one another,” Peterson said, “but I am going to have to take it to him on live television.”

Peterson was the No. 5 overall pick and first defensive player selected in Wednesday’s portion of the draft, which consisted of quarterbacks, linebackers, offensive tackles, defensive ends, safeties, kickers, running backs, tight ends, cornerbacks and kick returners. He was chosen after Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.

“I really love this next kid that we’re about to take because he reminds me so much of … me,” Sanders said while announcing the selection. Sanders has long made it clear he is a big fan of the Cardinals cornerback.

Peterson, who wears No. 21 in homage to Sanders, said he may pull out one of the signature Prime Time moves if he makes a big play.

“Why not in Hawaii put on a great show and hopefully I can do a couple high steps,” Peterson said.

Fitzgerald was assigned to Team Rice as the last wide receiver left after the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson went to Team Sanders. While other Pro Bowlers feigned indignation about getting selected late in the fantasy draft, Fitzgerald said he would hold no ill will toward Team Sanders.

“Whoever picked me, I was going to play hard for, go out and give it my best,” he said on the broadcast.

Fitzgerald will be joined on Team Rice by a pair of Cardinals teammates: linebacker John Abraham and special teamer Justin Bethel. Sanders drafted the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs as his final linebacker, which assigned Abraham to Team Rice. Bethel was assigned to Team Rice on Tuesday, when the special teamers were picked along with the punters, interior offensive linemen, defensive tackles, fullbacks, and long snappers.

Peterson may return punts, which would give Bethel, one of the NFL’s top gunners, a shot at bringing him down.

Team Rice features McCoy, Graham, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Browns receiver Josh Gordon, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and Colts defensive end Robert Mathis, along with the three Cardinals and others. Team Sanders is highlighted by Luck, Newton, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Bengals receiver A.J. Green, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis and Suggs along with Peterson.

The Pro Bowl will be held on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. MT from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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