Has Patrick Peterson regressed in his second season?
It’s a question worth pondering based on recent breakdowns the Cardinals’ 2011 first-round draft pick has experienced — both as a cornerback and a punt returner.
In his role as a cornerback in the Week Eight loss to the Niners on a Monday-night national stage, Peterson got burned pretty badly on a pair of TD catches by Niners WR Michael Crabtree.
In his role as a punt returner in the Week Nine loss to the Packers in Green Bay — a role he mastered as a rookie, becoming the first player in league history to register four punt-return TDs of 80-plus yards in a season — Peterson bobbled two kicks, losing one, while being held in check for the ninth straight game.
“I do not think he’s regressed at all as a cornerback,” said one daily team observer. “He was playing well until the Niners game, matching up regularly with the opposition’s best receiver. He’s been far from elite, but he certainly has great skills. Really, he’s had the one bad game.”
As a punt returner, though, Peterson has indeed seemed different.
“I never thought I’d see him drop one punt, much less two,” the observer said. “It looks like he’s pressing. He looks a lot more anxious. I also think teams are kicking to him differently, and that his outside blockers aren’t doing as good a job as they did last year. I think they miss Richard Marshall (who signed with Miami) in that role.”
The good news is that, like Larry Fitzgerald on the other side of the ball, Peterson is a perfectionist who will never stop working until he solves whatever problems he might be having.
“He studies all the time,” the observer said. “He’s always in the building on the Tuesday day off. He wants it badly. Maybe that’s a negative in a sense, in that he might be putting too much pressure on himself.
“But Patrick Peterson is the least of this team’s concerns.”