Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson (31) battles with fellow rookie DeMarco Sampson during a special teams drill Monday at Walkup Skydome.
The first time rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson lined up in practice in the NFL for an 11-on-11 drill, he stared across the line of scrimmage at Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
It was a draw – the pass play was thrown in a different direction – but it emphasized Peterson's arrival.
The No. 1 draft pick got to work for the first time Monday, spending some time with the first unit (although those terms are very loose given the amount of veterans still not practicing, including free-agent cornerback signee Richard Marshall).
He was beaten once by Fitzgerald on a comeback pass from John Skelton, and generally was doing the best he could to learn what he could after an offseason without the game.
"As practice went out, it went a little more smooth," Peterson said. "I am very far away. Very far away. But for the first day, it felt good. We are running a lot of similar things we did in college. But it's going to take time."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was willing to keep an open mind about Peterson starting in the first regular-season game, although generally, Whisenhunt prefers to ease rookies into that position.
"I hope so, but it's the head man's call," Peterson said. "I need to gain the trust of my teammates and my coach, and hopefully I will be starting Week One."
TIME FOR BEANIE
With the trade of Tim Hightower and the inexperience of rookie Ryan Williams, running back Beanie Wells has the opportunity to be the Cardinals' featured back – something that seemed inevitable back when he was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft.
"He's had a lot to learn," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully now he's in a position where there is a very clear message about what his mission is, and that's to be 'The Guy.' Hopefully he'll take those reins, and to be cliché, run with them."
Whisenhunt, however, wasn't going to overdramatize the situation.
"I think to say it's a make-or-break season is a little premature," Whisenhunt added.
DEPTH AT DEFENSIVE END
The Cardinals will get more depth at defensive end soon when veteran Vonnie Holliday arrives. He is expected either Tuesday or Wednesday.The Cards already got Nick Eason in free agency, helping back up Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell.
"I think it gives you more comfort knowing that if there is a defensive series that goes on for an extended period, you can get your guys out for a breather and still have a competent guy in there that knows the system, that's physical, that understands how to play in the league," Whisenhunt said. "That's critical. You think about interchangeable parts and the team concept, that's what we're really preaching with these guys."