Patrick Peterson: 'In position to flourish' in Cardinals' new defense

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cornerback Patrick Peterson is the longest tenured defensive player on the Arizona Cardinals' roster.

In his eighth season, his leadership and experience will be counted on this season. The shutdown corner is hoping for more chances at big plays.

“Just eager to get back on the stat sheet,” Peterson said. “All I can control is what I can control and do what I do. If they’re crazy enough to come my way, I want to make a play on it.”

Peterson knows he’ll be responsible for locking up the opposing team’s big-play wide receiver. He had only one interception last season as most teams avoided his side of the field. Peterson made his seventh Pro Bowl, despite opponents trying to take him out of the game by using such tactics as sending a third receiver deep downfield to try to make Peterson run more and get tired faster.

“We’re going to allow Patrick to play toward his strengths.” Cardinals first-year coach Steve Wilks said. “To be honest, I hope it continues to happen. He’s frustrated, but that’s the price of being great.”

Peterson hasn’t registered a sack since 2014, but in Wilks’ new 4-3 defense, could find himself rushing the quarterback on a corner blitz from time to time.

The thought of it made him smile.

“I believe guys are now in position to flourish even more than they did in the previous system, give the secondary a lot more opportunities to make plays on the ball, play with our eyes a little bit more,” Peterson said. “The defense is definitely less complicated. Guys are able to line up and play much faster.”

Peterson has grown wiser over his years and more aware of what he needs to do to excel. He's been a Cardinal long enough to remember training camps held at altitude in Flagstaff -- a few hours’ drive north of Phoenix. He returned to the thin air for workouts in the offseason.

Peterson has also talked to offensive coordinator Mike McCoy about how other teams game plan against him.

“Just trying to get ahead of the game for once the season rolls around,” Peterson said.

Safety Tre Boston said the secret to Peterson is consistency.

“Year in and year out, he shows you he’s if not the best corner in the league, he’s one of them,” Boston said. “You can see the stats and not acknowledge him for what he’s truly doing, but he’s a future Hall of Famer just by the way he plays and everything he’s been able to do.”

The Cardinals figure Peterson will take away his side of the field, allowing them to turn up the tempo on defense. The hope is that by playing fast, the opposing offense will make mistakes that lead to such things as tipped balls, thus more opportunities for Peterson and the secondary to make plays.

Wilks mentioned third-year pro Brandon Williams and free agent acquisition Jamar Taylor as two players he is looking at to work on the opposite side of Peterson.

“I’m expecting some great things out of him. We know what kind of player he is,” Wilks said. “Hopefully we’re going to get another guy that’s going to emerge on the other side ... that’s going to give him more opportunities this year to make some plays.”