The matchup of Patrick Peterson (21) and Calvin Johnson is a highlight every time the Cardinals and Lions play.
Patrick Peterson likes the big stage, and when you are co-starring with Calvin Johnson, the spotlight is always going to follow.
"We'll give the fans a great show," Peterson said with a smile, "and hopefully they'll have their popcorn ready."
At the center of Sunday's Cardinals-Lions game will, once again, be the interaction between Detroit's Pro Bowl receiver and the Cards' Pro Bowl cornerback. The Lions' "Megatron" has posted some nice stats in his meetings against the Cardinals since Peterson came along – and the Cardinals have posted the wins in the two previous games.
The popcorn remark didn't surprise Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles – "Patrick is an entertainer," Bowles said with a grin – but unlike previous years, Peterson won't be the only one tasked with covering Johnson on Sunday.
"He'll be on him some, I don't think he'll be on him exclusively," Bowles said. "Patrick likes challenges and it's a big challenge for him."
Johnson had 10 catches for 121 yards two years ago, but no scores, and the Cardinals blew out Detroit, 38-10. Last year, Johnson had six catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns – including an infamous 72-yard score when Peterson seemed to let up thinking linebacker Karlos Dansby would make an easy interception. Dansby somehow had the ball go through his hands.
The Cardinals still won, 25-21.
"It'll be a fun matchup," Peterson said. "I've been playing Calvin for three years now, I pretty much have a familiarity with him. They have a new offensive coordinator and some new weapons so they don't have to get the ball to him as much. We're both healthy now, I can't wait to see what the outcome will be. But as long as we come out with a W, that's all that matters."
Fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has been playing excellent of late, also figures to get some work against Johnson.
"I'll probably get a steady dose of both of them," said Johnson, who had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown last week after missing three games with an ankle sprain.
Bowles said there really isn't anyone who matches up well with Johnson, who goes 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds to go with his speed. Peterson, who had his first two interceptions of the season last week and is in the midst of his best play of the season, is ready to try.
"I'm back in a happy space right now," Peterson said. "It's all going to go through the roof."
ROOKIE THOMAS READY AS NUMBER TWO
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Logan Thomas is the No. 2 quarterback "in this one," with Ryan Lindley No. 3 (and possibly inactive, although it would make sense to have all three active.)
Thomas acknowledged it "takes a different mindset" for him now that Carson Palmer is injured for the season. If he wasn't focused before, he could see what could happen, like when Drew Stanton was concussed in Denver and Thomas was forced to finish the game.
"I just think it's a little bit more on me to be ready," Thomas said. "As we saw earlier this year, it takes just one snap."
Thomas looked like the raw rookie he is in that appearance, completing just one of eight passes – although it was a doozy, an 81-yard touchdown pass to running back Andre Ellington.
That game "was about getting the experience, letting the game slow down," Thomas said. "It was playing and getting a feel."
STINSON OUT, BUSH QUESTIONABLE FOR LIONS
The Cardinals will be without rookie defensive lineman Ed Stinson Sunday because of his toe injury, but he figures to be the only Cardinals player unavailable for Sunday's game. Linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) is questionable, but everyone else on the injury report is probable to play.
Running back Reggie Bush did not practice all week with an ankle injury, but he is officially listed as questionable for the game. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee) and guard Larry Warford (knee) both will miss the game. The other Lions on the injury report are probable.
CARDINALS ADD A DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
With Stinson on the shelf, the Cardinals added some depth by signing defensive end Josh Mauro off the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad. To make room, the Cards cut linebacker Thomas Keiser, who had been claimed off waivers from San Diego at the end of the preseason but who never quite panned out the way they wanted.
Mauro was undrafted out of Stanford this year. He recorded two sacks in the preseason for the Steelers.
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Lions