Cornerback Patrick Peterson accepts his Cardinals' Man of the Year Award from team president Michael Bidwill.
In one breath, coach Bruce Arians compared Patrick Peterson to a young Deion Sanders for his on-field excellence. In the next, he likened Peterson to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for his philanthropy.
The star cornerback was shocked when he was named the Cardinals' 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, but with that background, there may not have been a more natural choice. Every year, each of the 32 NFL teams honor a player who has dedicated himself to community service while proving his football prowess.
Peterson hosts multiple charity events a year – his annual "Shop with a Jock" event which buys kids gifts for the holidays is Monday – and he's been adamant on using his platform to improve the lives of less fortunate children. Peterson has especially focused on increasing the literacy rate of young students by creating multiple book-reading initiatives.
"These kids, they are our future," Peterson said Thursday during his award presentation by Nationwide. "And I want to make sure I'm doing my part at all times to make sure they have the proper tools that they need."
Three finalists will be chosen among the nominees and the winner will be announced prior to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis won it last year, when defensive tackle Calais Campbell was the Cardinals' nominee. Kicker Jay Feely was a finalist for the award in 2014 and Fitzgerald a finalist in 2013. Quarterback Kurt Warner won it in 2008.
"(Peterson) is among the best of the best," team president Michael Bidwill said. "I couldn't be more proud, as he's exemplifying what an NFL player is all about."
The Sanders parallel from Arians came because of Peterson's phenomenal coverage this season. While Peterson admitted he didn't live up to the billing of a shutdown corner last season, he has been one of the NFL's best in 2015.
"I knew what held me back last year," Peterson said. "I was fat. I couldn't make any plays. I was one or two steps behind of making the play."
"Everything I've been working on this offseason has definitely come all together," Peterson added.
*MATHIEU EARNS PLAYER OF THE MONTH; WOODLEY RECOGNIZED *
The praise and accolades are coming quickly to safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month on Thursday. The Cardinals went 4-0 in November and he registered 27 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed.
"Obviously I'm honored and humbled by it, but it's nothing, really," Mathieu said. "It's not something I should dwell on."
Mathieu is the only player in the NFL with at least 70 tackles and four interceptions on the season. His candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year has picked up steam of late, and that's one honor that would mean a great deal to him.
"Oh, yeah, definitely," Mathieu said. "I'd probably have to share it with, Pat, though. I don't feel like people are talking about him a lot. I feel like I'm stealing his shine right now, which I hate."
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was also recognized for his community service, earning the Cardinals' nomination for the NFL Players Association's Byron "Whizzer" White Award in a vote by his teammates. The winner gets $100,000 for the charity of his choice and will be announced at the NFLPA's Super Bowl press conference.
DAVID JOHNSON'S RUSHING LOAD DEPENDENT ON SCORE
Rookie David Johnson will be the lead horse in the backfield with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington injured, but there is no plan in place to get him a specific number of touches.
"You know B.A. is always going to put the ball down the field and we'll have certain things for him as well, but I really can't tell you," Goodwin said. "It's based off the flow of the game. If it's going well, we'll feed him. If not, we'll feed somebody else (through the air). Hopefully he has a great game."
Backups Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor could also see time in the backfield.
REDDING DOESN'T PRACTICE
Defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle) rehabilitated on the side but didn't practice for the second straight day, leaving his availability in doubt for the Rams game. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (ankle), cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf) and running back Andre Ellington (toe) also didn't practice and are expected to sit on Sunday.
Wide receiver John Brown (hamstring), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald ankle), wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring) and safety Tony Jefferson (thigh) were limited participants. Defensive tackle Ed Stinson (groin) was upgraded to full participation after missing Sunday's win over the 49ers.
For the Rams, quarterback Case Keenum (concussion) was limited and coach Jeff Fisher announced Nick Foles will get the start. Defensive end Robert Quinn (back), cornerback Trumaine Johnson (thigh), kicker Greg Zuerlein (hip) and tackle Andrew Donnal (knee) did not practice.
Images of past matchups between the Cardinals and Rams