The Cardinals seemed to dodge a bullet Thursday, when Patrick Peterson shot down Deion Sanders’ contention on ESPN’s First Take that the star cornerback is “trying to escape” the organization.
So one side of the field remains covered, but it doesn’t solve all of the team’s cornerback concerns.
Peterson has been up to his usual tricks this season, allowing 24-of-40 targets to be completed for 271 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. His passer rating allowed of 76.1 is the 16th-best in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
While Peterson is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 cornerback, the No. 2 spot remains a turnstile. The Cardinals began the season with Jamar Taylor opposite Peterson, but he was cut last week. BenéBenwikere was given the next shot, and he was released on Monday.
Now it is David Amerson’s turn. He is a six-year veteran who has found some NFL success but was out of work just 10 days ago. Peterson has a goal of leading the Cardinals to a Super Bowl one day, and finding that elusive cornerback complement would certainly help.
“I believe the cornerback I played with longest was Jerraud (Powers) and we had a lot of success,” Peterson said. “Having a guy you can play with and go through a full offseason with, multiple offseasons with, you learn how to play off one another. I believe it’s definitely going to be key for us to find a solid No. 2 corner moving forward. In (General Manager) Steve Keim we trust.”
Amerson signed a four-year, $33.9 million contract extension with the Raiders in 2016 but was released this February. He signed with the Chiefs two weeks later but didn’t make the team out of training camp. Still only 26, Amerson gets a critical starting chance with the Cardinals.
“It’s definitely an opportunity to represent this ballclub and also myself, to put some good film out there for my career,” Amerson said. “You know, try to prolong it.”
The Cardinals’ secondary has a tough matchup on Sunday against the Packers and their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Dontae Johnson and Quinten Rollins were signed this week as two more cornerback options and the team is trying to get them up to speed.
Rollins, like Amerson, is a former second-round pick. Johnson started all 16 games for the 49ers last season. Keim has turned free agent defensive backs with pedigree into productive pieces in recent years and hopes to do so again.
Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams was fantastic down the stretch last year after signing during training camp. Safety D.J. Swearinger joined the practice squad in 2015 and turned into a key contributor.
Coach Steve Wilks believes there will be sufficient motivation for Amerson, Johnson and Rollins to make a quick impression.
“I think where these guys are in their career – and you’re right, some of those guys are high draft picks – it’s an opportunity to say, ‘This may be my last shot,’” Wilks said. “Coming in with a clean slate, focused, and hopefully they can make things happen from here.”
Amerson will get the first opportunity, as Peterson continues to wait for a partner to emerge.
“Hopefully he can go out there Sunday, make some plays for us and we can finally solidify a starting corner for the rest of the season,” Peterson said.
Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Green Bay Packers