Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson at practice in England on Wednesday.
LONDON, England – Patrick Peterson has never missed a game in his seven-year NFL career, and he takes a lot of pride in that.
"That's very important to me," Peterson said. "Especially with me being a captain, being a leader on this team. Guys look for me to be out there with them. And I want to be out there with my troops."
The Cardinals hope that streak continues indefinitely, because life without their shutdown cornerback in Sunday's second half was not pretty.
Peterson left the game in the third quarter after aggravating a quadriceps injury on a punt return. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time since the Cardinals had a 31-6 lead, but the Buccaneers took full advantage, scoring 27 fourth-quarter points to make the Cardinals sweat out the victory.
Peterson played 41 defensive snaps against Tampa Bay. When he was on the field, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to complete 14-of-26 passes for 161 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Once Peterson left, Fitzpatrick was 13-of-16 for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Mike Evans was the main beneficiary. He had one catch for 17 yards before Peterson left the game, and then hauled in a pair for 78 yards and a touchdown after the departure.
On Wednesday, Peterson was rattling off ways for the defense to avoid future late-game letdowns, when he was asked if his return would help play a role in that.
"That definitely helps, for sure," Peterson said with a chuckle. "I definitely wish I was out there with my guys. Hopefully nothing happens this week – I'm going to stay off punt return – and hopefully I can stay healthy and finish the game this week."
PETERSON WILL "DEFINITELY" PLAY
Despite the setback in the game, Peterson is adamant he will start on Sunday against the Rams. Coach Bruce Arians was concerned that the 10-hour flight might cause some of the team's injuries to swell, but Peterson said he made it through without any substantive issues.
"I'll definitely be ready to go for Sunday," Peterson said. "For the flight, it actually didn't get as stiff as I thought it would. But, we'll do some warming up (Wednesday), running around a little bit, see how it feels, and I'll probably be ready to go for sure for practice (Thursday)."
After a rash of injuries, the Cardinals are doing better on the health front. Defensive linemen Xavier Williams (knee) and Olsen Pierre (ankle) were the only players who didn't practice on Wednesday. Peterson was limited, as were linebacker Karlos Dansby (hamstring), running back Andre Ellington (quadriceps), defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (calf), defensive lineman Corey Peters (knee) and tackle Jared Veldheer (knee)
For the Rams, linebacker Mark Barron (thumb), linebacker Connor Barwin (not injury related), safety Cody Davis (thigh), defensive back Kevin Peterson (illness), center John Sullivan (not injury related) and tackle Andrew Whitworth (not injury related) did not practice.
NO TIME FOR SIGHTSEEING
The Cardinals have spoken favorably about their accommodations outside of London, but for some, the view of downtown has been limited to a look out the airplane window upon descent.
While the team will be in England for several more days, there won't be much free time to be tourists.
"If they want to see London, come in March," coach Bruce Arians said. "We're here to win."
The Cardinals can pull even with the NFC-West leading Rams with a victory, while a loss would send them two games back.
"It's a huge game for us," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It's a huge game for the Rams, being a division game. So, there's not a whole lot of time to get out and about."
On their arrival day, the players get in some stretching to stay awake with the time change