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Star Shining Even Brighter For Patrick Peterson

Posted Oct 14, 2016

Cardinals' cornerback was an all-pro in 2015 and may be playing better this year

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson breaks up a pass against the Rams.

Patrick Peterson made the Associated Press’ All-Pro team last season, joining Josh Norman as the only two cornerbacks to earn the distinguished honor.

Despite that, he thought there was room to grow heading into 2016.

“That’s always my goal,” Peterson said. “I felt there were some things I needed to clean up from the 2015 season – although I did do some great things – and I did clean those things up. I think, right now, I’m having a better year than I had last year.”

The numbers make it hard to argue. Peterson has allowed only nine catches on 22 passes thrown his way for a total of 89 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. He also has a pair of interceptions, including a highlight-reel, one-handed grab down the sideline in Buffalo.

Peterson has allowed an anemic opposing quarterback rating of 30.3, and has given up the fewest receiving yards of any cornerback with at least four starts this season, per PFF.

Even though Peterson long ago established himself as a premier cover corner, his obscene athleticism still regularly wows defensive coordinator James Bettcher.

“There’s usually a play a week he will have a pick or do something in practice,” Bettcher said. “The thing I respect the most about Pat is how he works on a daily basis. We were just in a third-down period at practice, and the guy’s in a great stance, he’s got his eyes in the right spot, he’s mirror-motoring his feet, he’s working his technique.

“It’s almost halfway through the season, he’s played a bunch of years, had a bunch of practices, but he’s still working on the things he knows it takes to be a great player.

Peterson has played so well that even Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who has been critical of his NFC West cohort in the past, was complimentary in a recent article in The Players’ Tribune. Sherman analyzed a 2012 interception by Peterson and said his closing speed and acrobatic pick were feats other elite cornerbacks couldn’t do.

Peterson said it was nice to hear from a player at his position “but with me having the confidence I have, I already know some of those things.”

“But I definitely thank him for thinking of me as that player, giving me the praise he did give me,” Peterson said.

Brandon Marshall is coming to town with the Jets on Monday night, and Peterson is expected shadow him throughout the game. Marshall, 32, had 1,502 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns a season ago, and with Eric Decker out for the season, figures to be a popular target for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“He’s very, very talented,” Peterson said. “He’s still got a lot left in the tank. … It’s going to be a hell of a matchup.”

AFTER DOUBTS, PETERS MAKING PLAYS

When defensive tackle Corey Peters tore his right Achilles last training camp – his second season-ending Achilles injury – both he and coach Bruce Arians wondered if his career was irreparably harmed.

So it’s been quite the sight watching Peters wreaking havoc on the interior the past few weeks. While Peters only has six tackles, he tackled Bills running back LeSean McCoy for a safety in Week 3 and has five quarterback pressures.

One of those came against a double team last week against the 49ers, setting up a sack and safety for teammate Calais Campbell.

“He’s got his explosiveness,” Arians said. “He’s rushing the passer as well as anyone in the interior right now.”

Peters worried that the major injury might sap his effectiveness, so it was a relief getting back to normal. He also said the year away gave him some mental motivation.

“This injury, especially, it rejuvenated my love for the game,” Peters said. “To sit out last year, a 13-3 year, and watch the team while everybody is playing so well, you just want to be a part of that. That helped me pull through the rehab. Now I’m happy to be a part of the team and hopefully help us win games.”

FELLS UPGRADED TO FULL PRACTICE

Starting tight end Darren Fells missed last week’s win against the 49ers with a shoulder injury but practiced in full Friday, so he should be ready for Monday’s game. Guard Mike Iupati (ankle) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) didn’t practice, while cornerback Justin Bethel (foot) was limited.

For the Jets, starting linebacker David Harris (hamstring) didn’t practice, while cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and center Nick Mangold (knee) were upgraded to limited participants.

Left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) and tight end Braeden Bowman (knee) were also limited. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) and guard Brian Winters (concussion) were upgraded to full participation.

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