Cornerback Patrick Peterson jams wide reciever Tre Gray in practice.
FLAGSTAFF – Patrick Peterson was talking about becoming the best cornerback in the NFL, but for something that could have been a boast, it sounded not much like it.
It isn't that Peterson doesn't believe he can reach that level. To the contrary, he sounds like that's exactly what should be expected of him, and that the former No. 5 overall pick has to set such a goal.
"At the end of the day, you want to be the best," Peterson said. "You don't want to settle for second, settle for third. I want to try and be the best cornerback in the game.
So ask Peterson who the top two cornerbacks are in the game, and you get "Darrelle Revis … and Patrick Peterson."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt is OK with such pronouncements.
"Some guys say they are going to be the greatest players and couldn't play," Whisenhunt said. "I think it's apparent Patrick can play. There's nothing about Patrick that rubs you the wrong way. He's a young man who understands what it takes not only to be a great player but a great man in the community. When he says it, it's not out of an ego-driven motive. It's just what he believes."
Peterson isn't close to that ranking yet. He had his ups and downs as a rookie cornerback, and his Pro Bowl appearance was strictly because of his punt returning skills. But he did play much better in the second half of the season on defense and insists that daily battles with Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will get him where he needs to be.
"I'm definitely taking strides each and every day to being the best cornerback," Peterson said. "I'm working against one of the best guys in the game if not the best in Larry Fitzgerald. I want him to help me get me to the top."
THE "OTHER" RECEIVERS
The Cardinals know their top four receivers will be Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet and Michael Floyd. Beyond that, Whisenhunt said, the Cards will be watching preseason games closely to see what wideouts would be best to keep.
"Every one of them has a different skill set," Whisenhunt said. "It's more about what their strengths are and what roles they fit. It's not really important with size. Are they going to be a slot receiver, the third receiver, a choice or option guy, outside speed guy? It comes down to the best five or six guys."
The Cards have 11 receivers on the roster. An undrafted rookie like LaRon Byrd, who has flashed talent, could be a practice squad candidate, for instance. Veterans like Stephen Williams, DeMarco Sampson, Isaiah Williams and Jaymar Johnson are all fighting to stick around. Stephen Williams may be the most intriguing, after blowing on to the scene as an undrafted rookie in 2010 but unable to get much further on the roster. Sampson surpassed him on the depth chart last season.
"Hopefully you have decisions to make when it's time to make cuts," Whisenhunt said.
ONLY THE FIRST CANTON TRIP FOR FITZ
He's a long way from coming to the end of his career, but Fitzgerald would seem to be on track to eventually being named to the Hall of Fame. After 124 career games, his numbers are better than virtually every other wide receiver already in the Hall at that point in their career.
Whisenhunt certainly isn't doubting Fitzgerald's eventual destination.
"If I was a betting man," Whisenhunt said, "I would definitely bet on that."
WHIZ AT THE HALL
Whisenhunt has been to a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, when assistant head coach Russ Grimm was put in back in 2010. He's been a player and coach in a couple of Hall of Fame games too. But he said he's looking forward to actually walking around the Hall on this weekend's trip – the Cards will have a private tour Saturday night – and really seeing what's inside.
"I want to walk around and see all the things that were there," said Whisenhunt, who called former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Roger Staubach the player he rooted for growing up. "It's such a great place for the history of the game and all the men who have contributed to making this game so popular."