Peters, who tore his Achilles tendon for the second time in less than two years on Aug. 19, in the middle of training camp, said he’s moved out of the rehabilitation phase and into the strength-and-conditioning phase. And the 27-year-old said he’s been encouraged because he sees “constant improvement.”
“We’re close to the end,” Peters told ESPN. “I’m looking forward to these next few months.”
The first time Peters tore his Achilles was in Week 16 of the 2013 season with the Atlanta Falcons. He returned for 2014 and played in 15 games, but struggled to return to his pre-injury level. This time, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the team will be “careful” bringing Peters along. That’s been evident during organized team activities, which concluded Thursday. Peters hoped to get “some action” but said the goal has been not only to be ready for training camp but to be playing at a “high level” when the Cardinals report.
That’s important for Peters, who’ll be getting a second chance to make a first impression this training camp. A year ago he was coming over after five years with Atlanta and lasted less than three weeks before the injury ended his season.
“It was definitely tough coming into a new situation where nobody really knows who you are,” Peters said. “I think it’s important to show your teammates how you play and work hard, and all those things.
“To get through the offseason program [last year] and then through a few weeks of training camp and then being injured, I’m kind of approaching this new season with the same attitude. I’m basically starting over, and that’s fine. It’s just a different mindset and, you know, I’m preparing myself for that.”
Peters isn’t waiting until August for his sense of urgency to kick in. As a veteran, he understands the business side of the league. He understands he can be as easily let go as he was signed in 2015.
But he’s not feeling any pressure to make up for lost time. He just feels like has to do his job.
“I think that the NFL is pretty much always, play well or be replaced, and it’s no different,” Peters said. “That’s kind of the attitude I’ve always taken toward it, so whether it’s coming off an injury or anything else, I think it’s very important to put your best foot forward and put your best work on the field.”
When Peters rejoins his teammates on the field, he’ll be part of a different defensive line than a year ago.
The Cardinals added pass-rusher Chandler Jones off the edge and drafted another talented pass-rusher in Robert Nkemdiche to complement the likes of Pro Bowler Calais Campbell, Rodney Gunter and Frostee Rucker.
With Peters’ return, Gunter – who played nose last year – is expected to move outside. But Arians cautioned that Peters has the ability to be move around the line as well.
“Rodney’s got great flexibility,” Arians said. “He can play either end. He can play six technique. He can play the nose. He’s in great shape that way. He played them all last year. And Corey has end potential also. We have great flexibility with our defensive linemen.”
When Peters talked about this year’s defensive line, his eyes began to light up. He knows what all the edge pressure can do for himself in the middle.
“I think that the way this defense works, everybody is playing extremely aggressive,” he said. “Everybody's hunting. I think the more sharks, the better, and whenever guys like Calais and especially guys on the outside are really penetrating and being disruptive, I think that leaves the nose man, especially, kind of free to kind of clean up on both sides of the play.”