If it wasn’t for the fingertips of Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, Patrick Peterson would be the NFL’s solo record-holder for the punt-return touchdowns in a season.
“Hopefully, if they give me a shot (Sunday), I can redeem myself,” Peterson said Monday in light of his near-miss return in the season finale.
The Cardinals’ Pro Bowl return man still had four scores bringing back punts last season. Ryan will be back booting it for Seattle Sunday when the Cards open the regular season, and Peterson’s place begs all kinds of questions. Can he repeat what he did a season ago? And will teams even let him?
Peterson averaged 15.9 yards a return on 44 runbacks last year, and even late in the season, some teams kept kicking to him. The Cards were careful with him in the preseason, allowing him to return only two. He tried to make something happen on one, losing four yards. The other, he gathered in a booming kick by Raiders punter Marquette King and ripped off a 46-yard return to set up an opening-drive touchdown.
“At the end of the day, I believe I needed a little bit of work, but the coaches were pretty much saving me,” Peterson said. “Guys were trying to earn jobs, flying around, and you don’t want, I guess, your prized possession banged up for nothing. I have enough experience. Hopefully I can continue what I did last year.”
The Seahawks have their own good return man in Leon Washington, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. A good return man is a threat even before he gets his hands on the ball.
“When we face a guy like (Peterson), we are always concerned about it,” Whisenhunt said. “It does affect your preparation.”
Peterson has a lot on his plate, because the Cards are counting on him to emerge as a top-flight cornerback in addition to his return duties. Peterson doesn’t see that as a problem.
“Not with the mentality I take on the field,” Peterson said. “I want to be the best at everything I do each and every time I am on the field. That’s punt return or cornerback.”
CARROLL SAYS SKELTON HAS “GUTS”
In the last game he coached that counted, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll watched Cardinals quarterback
“There are little subtleties about his awareness of rushers around him,” Carroll said. “He’s got the guts that the big-time quarterbacks have to make the tough throws and throw it in counting on receivers to make plays.
“He’s just getting started, but more than all that, he’s a winner. He has won his games, and I really have high regard for him, just based on what I have seen.”
SEAHAWKS' LYNCH SITS; SNYDER AMONG LIMITED
Whisenhunt said he is planning to see workhorse running back Marshawn Lynch for the Seahawks Sunday, but Lynch is dealing with a back injury. He did not practice Wednesday, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the team will take it “one day at a time” with Lynch.
For the Cardinals, the only player to miss practice was receiver
Whisenhunt did not sound concerned talking about his injuries in general, noting that will players like Schofield, the team is being conservative with the first game approaching.