Patrick Peterson was back for voluntary work Monday for the first time in the offseason, smiling at his locker after the workout.
Turned out he got an interception in his offseason debut, picking off rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.
“It was a welcome-back gift,” Peterson said. “He gift-wrapped it for me.”
The play even brought a smile to coach Kliff Kingsbury after.
“The universe kind of worked out for Pat today,” Kingsbury said. “I think it’s a sign of good things to come for him.”
Peterson said he’ll be around for the balance of the offseason work, which includes three more voluntary OTAs this week and then the three-day mandatory minicamp next week. There are hurdles to maneuver later, once the Cardinals get to training camp, knowing that once the preseason ends Peterson will miss six games because of his suspension for failing a PED test.
Peterson will practice until the suspension, but Kingsbury said there will be a plan worked out for Peterson to get his preparation reps for the season but also to prepare the other cornerbacks to play more snaps in Peterson’s absence.
There already had been some of that in the offseason, given that Peterson hadn’t been around. He said now that his young daughter is taking part in summer classes, he was able to return to OTAs. Kingsbury said he had been in ongoing communication with Peterson and knew a return had been coming.
“You can always get better, no matter where you are in your career,” Peterson said. “So I think these are some valuable moments in spring football to build that camaraderie and trust in each other.
“This is a valuable period, especially with us having a new coach.”
Kingsbury said he thought Peterson brought some “good juice” to the workout. The coach reiterated that a veteran like Peterson didn’t need a lot of warmup (a philosophy underscored when Kingsbury noted that veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has also been absent from voluntary work, would not be impacted given how much he has already learned playing in the NFL.)
Cornerback Robert Alford, signed to be the starter across from Peterson and who now finds himself as CB1 the first six games while Peterson is sidelined, said just being able to talk strategy on the sidelines with Peterson was a benefit.
“He’s been a Pro Bowl cornerback and that’s something I haven’t got yet, so I feel he can help me out a lot this year,” Alford said.
Peterson said he isn’t concerned about preparing for the season even with the long layoff coming. He emphasized he’ll be ready to come back Week 7 both mentally and physically. It’ll be jumping into the regular season and “getting back in the fire.”
Step one in that process came Monday, with October so many months away.
“I am very deeply sad and sorry my name is associated with (a failed test) and that I’m letting my brothers down,” Peterson said. “It’s behind us now. I’m looking forward to coming back against the Giants.”
Images from Monday's offseason work