THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Marcus Peters doesn’t like getting beat.
But, it happens. Cornerbacks get beat. The problem, for the Los Angeles Rams cornerback, though, is it's been happening a bit too often.
The Los Angeles Chargers’ Mike Williams beat Peters for a 45-yard score in Week 3 before Peters was sidelined in that game with a calf injury. In Week 5, he was beaten twice for long scores in the Rams’ win over the Seattle Seahawks.
And Peters keeps coming back. That’s also part of the job description.
“I’ve had the f--- it syndrome for a long time,” Peters said.
“But it's part of the game, man. I learned that trait early in my career. And s---, like that don't bother me; I go out there and just try to get some s--- done.”
Peters, as it’s pretty clear, also doesn’t tiptoe around most subjects.
So when he was recently asked how he felt and whether he was 100 percent after the calf strain that has lingered since Week 3, Peters cut to the chase.
“I got beat,” Peters said. “I gotta keep my eyes on there. Can't say nothing else about it.”
The Rams acquired Peters in an offseason trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in an effort to upgrade their secondary and find better fits for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme, which is designed, in part, to put cornerbacks in position to make plays in man coverage.
Through a 6-0 start, the Rams’ defense is ranked 15th overall, with a 16th-ranked passing defense that has allowed an average of 245 yards per game.
But while Peters, who is in the fourth season of his five-year rookie contract, has the instincts and athleticism to make a game-changing play at any moment, recently he has come up on the losing end of some key one-on-one battles.
Williams beat Peters on a perfectly executed play. The injury appeared to slow him too the following week against the Minnesota Vikings most notably when he jumped in an attempt a break up a 16-yard touchdown by Aldrick Robinson. And against the Seahawks, Peters cheated with his eyes, as he stared down quarterback Russell Wilson, with hopes of intercepting a pass, as his matchup sprinted past him. First, Tyler Lockett torched Peters for a 44-yard touchdown on one such situation. And then David Moore beat him for a 30-yard score.
“He's one of those guys that's special in that he sees so many things, and he can diagnose routes and those kind of things,” Phillips said. “You don't want to take that away from him, but you also don't want him peeking too much in certain situations.”
His attitude and instincts in those situations have helped him make those game-changing plays. That attitude of his goes back to his childhood in Oakland.
“Ever since I was a little kid,” Peters said. “My mama's like, ‘Yeah, that's just him -- when he says 'f--- it,' it's f--- it.’
Coach Sean McVay lauded Peters’ ability to own his mistakes, and even more, his desire to fix them.
“He’s a fearless competitor,” McVay said. “You always want guys that never fear failure.”
Peters’ mentality is critical for the success of a defensive back. If a play lingers too long, one defeat can quickly turn into two.
“If you focus on the play before, you’ll screw up the next play,” said safety John Johnson III, who has intercepted two passes this season. “So you kind of got to move on.”
“If you're going to be a really good player over the course of time in this league, you better be able to handle bad plays because they're inevitable,” McVay said. “You show me anybody that's been a great player in this league, I'll show you somebody that's responded from some form of adversity, been able to make plays after things that didn't always go their way.”
Phillips has not expressed much concern over some of the big plays allowed by Peters, who played opposite of All-Pro Aqib Talib for the first two games before Talib injured his ankle in Week 3 and was placed on injured reserve.
Instead, Phillips has shouldered part of the blame.
“We've got to get him, system-wise, in to how we want things done,” Phillips said. “He's got great movement skill and ball skill and all those things. So, I think it's just working out how we want to play it and him fitting into the way we want it done.”
Last Sunday in a 23-20 win over the Denver Broncos, Peters had two tackles and picked up a penalty for defensive pass interference.
This season, Peters has 17 tackles and two pass deflections, along with the interception.
And with matchups looming against Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, there’s still plenty of time for Peters to find his niche in Phillips’ scheme and demonstrate the playmaking reputation he brought with him from Kansas City to L.A.
“It's football, baby,” Peters said after Week 5. “That's the beautiful thing about it. You're gonna have these weeks like this, to where it's gonna be a struggle to get in the flow of some s---. They made some plays, they made some big plays, and you just gotta make some plays next week.”