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Cardinals' revamped secondary making progress

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Nov. 11, 2011 @ 4:03 a.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Ten weeks into the season, the Cardinals' CB corps remains a major work in progress.

For Patrick Peterson, who has wasted no time developing into a perfect "10" as a punt returner, his growing pains continue as the starting right corner. But daily team observers believe the arrow is pointing up for the team's 2011 first-round draft pick.

It's been a different story, though, on the left corner.

Although team insiders tell us A.J. Jefferson apparently had a hard time seeing it, the handwriting was on the wall for a couple of weeks before he was replaced as the starter by free-agent addition Richard Marshall in Week Nine.

"Peterson is getting better. I don't see him getting beaten as much as he was earlier in the season," said one source on the scene. "Obviously, he has the physical skills to become really good in coverage."

Peterson's problems have been mostly of a technical nature.

"He has a bad habit of putting his hands on receivers, and he's getting called for it (he has nine penalties)," the source said. "The team is walking a fine line because it doesn't want to curb Peterson's aggressiveness."

Jefferson, who looked so promising before the season started, just hasn't responded, getting picked on regularly. Marshall, meanwhile, had been doing a nice job filling in as the nickel safety in place of the injured Kerry Rhodes.

"His versatility has been a real plus," the source said of Marshall, a starter in every game the last two years for the Panthers before signing with the Cardinals this offseason. "He's tough and very professional, and he doesn't make a lot of unforced errors."

We hear Rhodes, who remains in a cast and on crutches after undergoing foot surgery, is probably 2-3 weeks away from returning to action.

At strong safety, veteran Adrian Wilson has been looking like his old self in recent weeks after looking off-kilter earlier in the season.

"Overall, I'd have to say the secondary has looked a lot better, even with A.J. regressing," the source said. "Everybody seems to have a better idea of the defense's concept and schemes. Opposing receivers aren't running around free, like they were the first month of the season."

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