Over his first seven seasons in Arizona, Patrick Peterson came to define "travel corner." The seven-time Pro Bowler was Exhibit A whenever the discussion about top CBs shadowing No. 1 receivers popped up.
"I was an artist at taking No. 1 receivers out of the game, and I was pretty damn good at it," Peterson said, via the team's official website.
Under new head coach Steve Wilks, that role will change. Instead of being used almost exclusively in press coverage on the team's top receiver, Wilks will move Peterson around, have him line up off the ball more and even have him rush the passer on blitzes.
"It should be fun," Peterson said. "I'm looking to make a ton of plays this year. I'm looking to start jumping routes now. I'm looking to be a little bit more aggressive off the ball, and be the same as I am when I'm in the receiver's face."
Playing off coverage more often should give Peterson the chance to make more plays on the ball, utilizing his athleticism and reaction speed. Over the past several seasons, teams have mostly avoided throwing Peterson's way. After earning seven interceptions in 2012, he has three or fewer in each of the past five years, including just one in 2017. For comparison, Richard Sherman, who entered the league with Peterson in 2011, has 32 career interceptions, 11 more than PP's 21.
"Over the last seven years, everyone who played against me knew exactly what I was going to be in," Peterson said. "When they come here and play in Arizona, nine times out of 10 we didn't see what they ran in the previous game plan. It was always a lot of motions and a lot of stacks to get my hands off [the No. 1 wideout]. Now they have to play a little bit more honest to where I'm still going to be in a little bit of press, but now my game has evolved into playing off the ball as well."
Peterson's new role won't preclude him from sometimes shadowing a No. 1 target in a big spot, but after years of playing mostly press-man, the Cards' new coaches are letting one of the NFL's top cover men dig deeper into his toolbox.