GLENDALE, Ariz. — Suspended Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is planning on playing in the preseason as he prepares to miss the first six games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
On Wednesday, coach Kliff Kingsbury said it “remains to be seen” if Peterson plays in the preseason. Peterson has been getting first-team reps through the first two days of training camp.
The eight-time Pro Bowler believes his snap count will start changing around Weeks 2 or 3 of the preseason as the Cardinals ready his replacement, but added that a game plan hasn’t been discussed yet. Rookie Byron Murphy, veteran Tramaine Brock and second-year cornerback Chris Jones are the likely candidates to replace Peterson once the regular season begins.
“It definitely feels good to get some opportunities in practice, to have the opportunity to break on some balls, get in a good rhythm,” Peterson said. “That’s what it’s all about. I don’t want to be getting all bored like I was over the years past. I think now, if I’m able to just stay focused and just hone in on a little things, I can continue just being the best player I can be.”
For now, Peterson doesn’t plan on changing his approach to training camp even though he won’t play in a regular season game until Week 7. It’ll be the first games he’s missed in his eight-year career.
“I want to attack this training camp just as I did all the previous ones,” Peterson said. “The only difference is I won’t be available for Week 1. You take pride in being in shape, so my conditioning will always be tip-top shape. Because as a [defensive back], that’s what we do. We run all day. So, that won’t be a problem once I get back.”
Peterson plans on following his in-season routine while he’s serving his suspension. That includes waking up at 6 a.m. for a morning workout, followed by getting in the hot tub and the steam room — all of which he has at home, he said. Then he’ll find a local field and spend about 90 minutes to two hours going through drills and mentally going through route combinations.
His goal is to come back “as sharp as I can.” Peterson also said he plans on staying in touch with his teammates while he’s away from the team. He plans on watching every game, while helping from afar, he said.
“It’s gonna be painful to watch,” Peterson said.
Peterson won’t have access to the Cardinals’ playbook during his suspension but it may not matter. Peterson said he “pretty much” knows his role in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s 3-4 scheme, which is similar to his role under former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and James Bettcher: Take every team’s top receiver.
“They’re gonna put me on the best guy,” Peterson said. “We’re going to press a ton. I told, I think it was D.J. (Swearinger), I said, ‘Man, we pressed yesterday more in this practice than we did all last season.’ So, this year will be getting back to Cardinals’ football, especially on defense. I’m definitely excited about that. Give us corners the opportunity to get our hands on receivers and make it tougher, make those windows a little tighter.”
Peterson said he doesn’t feel guilty for not being around to mentor the Cards’ young defensive backs but feels it’s his “duty” to make sure his replacement is prepared. It’s been more than two months since he was suspended, and Peterson said he and the team are “great” and “all that stuff is behind us,” despite only talking to general manager Steve Keim “every once in a while.”
“We’re in a good position right now,” Peterson said.