Corey Peters had never had two sacks in a game in the NFL before last weekend in Minnesota.
The defensive tackle hadn’t even had a double when he played in college – he had to go back to his high school days to note such a feat.
But it’s another first Peters has had this year that he calls “one of the greatest achievements of my career” – when he was named a captain.
“It’s a huge responsibility for me to make sure I am living up to that standard,” Peters said Tuesday.
Peters carries that weight right now as the Cardinals go through a bad and frustrating stretch. The team has lost five of its first six. The defense has not yet been able to solve its problems against the run, an issue that is undermining everything else the unit has done.
So while Peters has proven to be someone who has done his job in the run game – Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb called Peters the Cards’ most consistent interior run defender, the “rock” of the line – he calmly answered questions in a blunt manner after the Vikings game about the team’s woes.
“Ten guys can do everything perfect and one guy can mess it up and none of that matters,” Peters said. “For me, I’ll always have evaluated my success with the team’s success. I’ve been on great teams and not played so well, and played well and been on bad teams. I would rather be on a good team, honestly.”
Noticing Peters isn’t always easy, and that’s not just from a fans’ perspective. It’s why he was so honored that his teammates voted him as a captain, because he knows he’s not a particularly vocal guy.
Teammate Patrick Peterson called the 30-year-old Peters “like our Adam Thielen,” because like the Vikings star receiver, “he does everything right.”
Peters is the Cardinals’ NFL Players Association representative, he’s versed in politics – he was one of the players who visited with the Governor earlier this season – and he’s seen plenty in his eight NFL seasons to pass along football wisdom to his teammates.
“He’s been through all the ups and downs,” Peterson said. “He has a great story to tell.”
The stories Peters is mostly telling now are about how guys need to be consistent in their play, something that Holcomb needs on his side of the ball. Peters sees football as an “accountability-driven” sport, one in which it is imperative that players are willing to own up to their own mistakes.
Peters said he makes sure he raises his hand if he makes a mistake, and in every situation, the idea is to figure out what he could’ve done to aid a play even if he didn’t make the mistake, since “the way I was taught football, it’s always your fault.”
“I’m at a point in my life where my main focus is my happiness,” Peters said. “It’s not a money thing, I don’t want notoriety – I would rather not be famous – I’d rather just be with my family. I guess that’s the way I am the way I am. The reality is, I’m here to win. That’s the most important thing to me.”
So yeah, sacks are cool, but they aren’t what Peters truly seeks. As a captain, he wants to be the one that leads the defense – and the Cardinals – back from the brink they’ve found themselves.
“I’m doing things even when I don’t want to because I know eyes will be on me,” Peters said. “Times like this, when it’s easy to be selfish and pull apart, it’s more important for me to show my commitment.”