Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson waves to the crowd in Philadelphia last weekend.
James Bettcher chuckled, because the defensive coordinator doesn't know why cornerback Patrick Peterson isn't getting discussed more nationally for the season he has put together.
"I'm telling you what I believe and what I feel: He's doing special things," Bettcher said. "Watch the tape. People aren't catching the ball on him. Put him on the best receiver every week, or the guy they target the most, whether it is in the slot or outside, whatever it is, he's special."
Peterson was just named to the Pro Bowl for a fifth straight season, but he's enjoying by far his best and most consistent season as a
defender. He only has two interceptions, in large part because teams rarely throw his direction.
Peterson was asked why he hasn't gotten more attention, and while he paused briefly, he said "I couldn't care less."
"I guess if I got a couple touchdowns on me, it'd be (broadcast as) a public service announcement," Peterson added. "I just want to continue doing the things I've been doing this year, playing competitive football, keeping guys out of the end zone and for the most part playing sound football for 60 minutes."
Peterson has given up only one touchdown this season, and that came only because he made a mistake in coverage and didn't follow Bears receiver Josh Bellamy down the field on an uncovered 48-yard score.
"His growth, his awareness of what is going to happen before it happens … a personnel group comes on the field, he knows the three or four routes he's going to get," Bettcher said. "Those kind of things are priceless. Those are not coachable things. Those are things guys do outside the building."
According to profootballfocus.com, Peterson is the sixth-best cornerback in coverage (and it should be noted that PFF grades only on passes thrown the cornerback's way, so Peterson gets no credit when teams don't throw his way.) He is second in completion percentage against (behind the Jets' Darrelle Revis) and third in passer rating against (behind Carolina's Josh Norman and St. Louis' Trumaine Johnson.)
Against Philadelphia, Peterson covered rookie wideout Nelson Agholor. Agholor was targeted once, with no catches, and later called being covered by Peterson "a tribute."
Peterson shrugged off the lack of stats, saying it's simple how he has judged the job he has done every week.
"Having the assignment going against No. 1 receiver, for the most part these guys haven't been showing up on the stat sheet, so I feel I'm doing my job at a high level," Peterson said. "My goal is to get this team to a championship."
PRO BOWL PICTURES ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE
The Cardinals got an offensive lineman – guard Mike Iupati – into the Pro Bowl for the first time since tackle Lomas Brown was selected way back in 1996.
There are pictures on the wall of the O-line's meeting room that features the best offensive linemen over the years, a "constant reminder" of how long the drought has been, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said.
"Larry (Fitzgerald) cracked a joke (Wednesday), 'Can we get the picture up now?' " Goodwin said. "If we have to, we'll do it. We'll just use a cell phone. Put it up there.
"It's been a while. It's good. But God, I don't want him to play in that game."
Pro Bowlers who are playing in the Super Bowl skip the Pro Bowl.
RASHAD JOHNSON REMAINS ON SIDELINE; ELLINGTON WORKS
Safety Rashad Johnson, whose presence becomes more important with the injury to Tyrann Mathieu, sat out practice again Thursday with his sore ankle. But he said it was also the best day he's had, and the hope is that he will practice Friday.
"If the progress continues like it's been going for the past week and a half -- like it did from (Wednesday) to (Thursday) – on to Friday and Sunday, then yeah, I'll be able to play on Sunday," Johnson said.
If not, Bettcher said the Cardinals are helped with the emergence of new safety D.J. Swearinger and the re-signed Chris Clemons, whom Bettcher said was already going to have a bigger role in the defense before he was hurt and placed on injured reserve earlier this season before being cut.
Running back Andre Ellington (toe) returned to practice on a limited basis as the Cardinals try to see how much he can play with new shoes.
Defensive tackle Josh Mauro (calf) was the only other Cardinal to sit out. Quarterback Carson Palmer (finger), cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf), defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle), defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (ankle) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (shoulder) were also limited.
For the Packers, tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle), linebacker Jayrone Elliot (quadriceps), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (foot) and cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) did not practice. Limited were defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hamstring), tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), running back Eddie Lacy (rib), guard T.J. Lang (shoulder), linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle), tight end Justin Perillo (hamstring), guard Josh Sitton (back) and center Corey Linsley (ankle).
GRICE BACK ON PRACTICE SQUAD
The Cardinals brought back running back Marion Grice Thursday, signing him to the practice squad. Grice played in 10 games for the Cards in 2014, rushing for 41 yards on 15 carries and scoring a touchdown. To make room for Grice, the Cards released running back Abou Toure from the practice squad.
DAVID JOHNSON EARNS HONOR
Running back David Johnson was voted (by the fans) the Fed Ex Ground Player of the Week this week after his 187 yards rushing in Philadelphia. He beat out the Giants' Rashad Jennings and the Texans' Alfred Blue.
Images of past games between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Green Bay Packers