NFL notes: Bigger role for Arizona’s Patrick Peterson

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson received help taking off a white t-shirt after he played wide receiver on offense during the Cardinals’ intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson received help taking off a white t-shirt after he played wide receiver on offense during the Cardinals’ intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.

Patrick Peterson is catching passes, throwing some, and running with the ball during training camp.

No doubt about it, new Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has plans for the dynamic player on offense.

In his first two NFL seasons, Peterson made the Pro Bowl as a punt returner, then as a cornerback. He remains a shutdown cornerback, first and foremost. And he still plans to return punts.


But Arians says Peterson is too talented to be standing on the sideline all the time when the Cardinals have the ball and Peterson is all for it.

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‘‘I’m pretty dynamic with the ball in my hands,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not saying the offense needs help. They have great talent over there. But I guess [Arians] just wanted more explosive plays from guys that could help.’’

Peterson had a few snaps last season in the wildcat formation under then-coach Ken Whisenhunt. When Whisenhunt was fired and Arians came in, the new coach had an idea that he’d like some kind of package with Peterson on offense. That idea has only grown as Arians watched Peterson up close.

‘‘I had hopes that he could be something special in a package a week,’’ Arians said. ‘‘But after you see the athlete he is, he probably could be one of the top five receivers in the league. So you say, ‘Hmm, that’s a lot of weapon sitting over here next to me.’ ’’

Arians, speaking Saturday before the team’s annual ‘‘Red vs. White’’ practice, said that he’s installed about 15 plays with Peterson on offense, although there wouldn’t be that many in any single game plan.


‘‘But there’s no doubt we’re going to utilize his skill set on offense,’’ the coach said.

Arians doesn’t use the wildcat. Instead, he has Peterson either at wide receiver or in the backfield. On several occasions, he’s caught a pass over the middle.

Peterson has been a starting cornerback from the time the Cardinals selected him as the No. 5 pick overall out of LSU in 2011.

As a rookie, he tied an NFL record, becoming the fourth player in league history to return four punts for touchdowns in a season. Of the four, Peterson is the only one to have all four returns go at least 80 yards.

Last season, he didn’t get a single punt return to the end zone, but he did excel at cornerback, ranking fourth in the league with seven interceptions. Peterson became the ninth player in NFL history to make two Pro Bowls before his 23d birthday.


It is, new Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said earlier in camp, too much talent to waste on one side of the ball.

‘‘If he wasn’t playing corner, he’d probably be just as good a receiver or an H-back,’’ Palmer said. ‘‘He’s a Percy Harvin-type player, because you’ve seen what he can do as a punt returner, obviously.’’

Griffin impresses

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III hasn’t shown any rust while returning from knee surgery.

Griffin went 13 for 17 in seven-on-seven drills Saturday. Players returning from knee surgery often need a periodic day off during camp, but Griffin hasn’t missed a practice.

‘‘For that knee not to swell up is a big sign,’’ coach Mike Shanahan said.

The coach wouldn’t say when Griffin will start taking snaps in 11-on-11 drills.

Coughlin lauds Parcells

Giants coach Tom Coughlin left after practice Saturday for Canton, Ohio, where he planned to celebrate former coach Bill Parcells’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

‘‘The celebration is the apex of someone’s career,’’ Coughlin said of the man he served as wide receivers coach on the Giants from 1988-90.

‘‘We throw the ‘great’ word around in common usage way too often, but he was a great football coach.’’

When asked if he ever envisioned his own bust in the Hall, Coughlin said, ‘‘I don’t even want to hear that kind of stuff today. That’s not what this day is about. This day is about Coach Parcells, period.’’

No rush on Freeman

Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said the team is in “no hurry” to extend quarterback Josh Freeman’s rookie deal entering a contract year. “I think there’s just a comfort level that everybody understands where Josh Freeman’s going,” Dominik told a Tampa radio station. “Let’s focus on this season, and then, we’ll go after the season’s over.” Freeman passed for 4.065 yards and 27 touchdowns with 17 interceptions last season . . . Bills coach Doug Marrone said wide receiver Steve Johnson will be out for at least a week with a hamstring injury. Johnson, Buffalo’s top receiver, suffered the injury during Friday’s practice . . . Browns running back Trent Richardson was held out of practice for the second straight day. He was kicked in the shin earlier this week but is expected to return to practice Monday . . . The Cardinals continue to practice without their top two running backs. Rashard Mendenhall missed his second straight day of practice with knee tendinitis but is expected back Monday. Ryan Williams had another treatment on his ailing knee but isn’t expected to return to practice until after the Aug. 9 preseason opener at Green Bay . . . The Bears signed tight end Leonard Pope, who has played for St. Louis, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. Pope has 105 career catches for 982 yards since coming into the league in 2006 . . . The Steelers signed veteran offensive tackle D’Anthony Batiste and placed fellow tackle Nik Embernate on the waived/injured list. Batiste, 31, had 10 of his 14 career starts last season for the Cardinals. Batiste adds to tackle group that lacked depth behind projected starters Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert. Embernate is an undrafted guard from San Diego State who sustained a knee injury earlier in the week.