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"Strong-Minded" Patrick Peterson Weathers 2014

Posted Jan 22, 2015

Pro Bowl cornerback knows he needs more consistency in future play

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson takes part in Team Carter's Pro Bowl practice Thursday at Luke Air Force Base.

The Pro Bowl is great, Patrick Peterson believes, because it gives him a chance to “pick the brains” of some of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

“I’m still a young guy,” said the Cardinals’ 24-year-old cornerback, after his first Pro Bowl practice of the week Thursday. “I love to talk to guys who have been there, done that.”

Peterson himself has some stories to tell about his just completed 2014 season. It started with a flourish, with a contract extension making him the NFL’s highest-paid at his position. It will end with his fourth Pro Bowl appearance. In between, Peterson acknowledged, the year could’ve been better.

“It wasn’t a hard season at all,” Peterson said. “A couple things held me back from having the kind of season I wanted to have, like the nagging ankle injury, going through minor health issues. Being a competitor as I am, you put those things on the backburner and try to play through it. That’s tough, and obviously I wasn’t able to overcome it the best I wanted to.

“I will definitely make sure I do everything this offseason to prevent it from happening again. (I’m) not saying I had a horrible year. I just felt like I wasn’t consistent enough.”

Peterson finished with three interceptions – all against the Rams in two meetings – and a sack. The ankle injury suffered against Denver was worse than he let on, and he had a particularly bad day in Atlanta when covering Julio Jones most of a game in which Jones had a then-career-best 189 yards on 10 receptions. He was flagged for 14 penalties as he tried to adjust to the increased scrutiny on physical coverage. General Manager Steve Keim said during the season he wanted Peterson to up his game in a technical sense.

But Peterson also held Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant in check against the Lions and Cowboys, and both coach Bruce Arians and now-departed defensive coordinator Todd Bowles often said Peterson did fine this season.

“I think he was in a little slump early in the year,” Arians said the day after the season ended. “But once he got rolling, he was as good as ever.”

Peterson absorbed the criticism during the season and shrugged it off Wednesday, noting that it comes along with his job.

“At the end of the day, I’m a man, I look in the mirror, I know what problems need to be fixed,” Peterson said. “I don’t need anyone to tell me about it or hear more about it. That’s the media, that’s their job. One thing about me, I’m a very strong-minded person, words will never break me down.”

That’s a crucial element to improving, fellow Cardinals cornerback and Team Carter Pro Bowl teammate Antonio Cromartie said. Cromartie, having played a number of years in the New York media market, said Peterson never can let whatever is being said impact his mindset.

‘You have to worry about what you can do to correct things what you see you’re doing wrong,” Cromartie said. “Leave everything else alone. When you add the outside to what you do as a profession it starts to affect you and you can’t let that happen.”

Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel said Peterson was able to do that this season.

“You have to just look past it and know as a player, ‘I’ve got to get better, I’ve got to make plays, they’ve got me out here for a reason, I need to get the job done,’ ” Bethel said. “I think he handled it well. I think he got back to what he needed to be doing by the end of the season.”

Peterson said he thinks he has come “a long, long way” in his career. Arians warned him when he signed his contract extension that expectations would rise, and that has happened. His contract and his youth make him an important part of the roster going forward, and the expectations figure to only grow.

Peterson believes his career has unfolded as he pictured thus far, now with a playoff appearance and multiple Pro Bowl nods. He said he never thought much about whether he’d be there this year after his season, but was clearly happy he was chosen.

“I thank the fans and coaches and players who think I’m still at the top of my game even though I didn’t have the season statistically that I am accustomed to having,” Peterson said. “It’s definitely a sign of respect from my colleagues.”

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