Last week the Vikings defense had to deal with a dual threat on the Washington Redskins offense in QB Robert Griffin III. Entering the game, RG3 had 8 total TDs – 4 receiving and 4 rushing – and he was able to tack on 3 more against the Vikings, with 2 coming on the ground and another one through the air.
The Vikings opponent this week – the Arizona Cardinals – also has an extremely talented athlete who poses as a dual threat. This time, though, it will be the Vikings offense and special teams that will have to deal with the threat.
The player is Patrick Peterson. He is a starting CB for the Cardinals defense and he’s one of the NFL’s best punt returners. Arizona selected Peterson with the 5th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and it didn’t take Peterson long to make a profound impact on the League.
Peterson started all 16 games at CB for Arizona’s defense and recorded 2 INTs and 13 passes defensed. His most notable impact, though, came on special teams. He had a record-setting season returning punts, scoring 4 TDs and totaling 699 yards on 44 returns. The 4 return TDs tied the NFL single-season record and set a franchise record, and the 699 return yards established an NFL rookie record and ranks as the 2nd-highest single-season total in NFL history (Desmond Howard, 875, 1996).
For those efforts, Peterson was selected to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, becoming the first Cardinal rookie since Anquan Boldin (2003) to earn Pro Bowl honors. He also earned 1st-Team All-Pro recognition as a kick returner and was the only rookie named to the team.
“He’s a good player,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “Good corner and has good cover ability. They’ve been playing him in some man situations, he’s good in zone situations. And then as a punt returner, he’s in a whole class by himself.
“He’s incredible…four touchdowns over eighty yards a year ago and set an NFL record. So he’s a special guy when it comes to punt return. We talked about him in our meeting and what we’ve got to do to keep him corralled. He can definitely change a game as a punt returner, and even as a defensive back. Outstanding player.”
So far in 2012, Peterson has already surpassed his INT total (he has 3 already). But he’s yet to take a punt return to the house and is averaging 10.1 yards per return on 22 tries. In last year’s matchup with the Cardinals, the Vikings were able to minimize Peterson’s impact. He collected 4 tackles on defense and was forced to take 3 fair catches on 4 Chris Kluwe punts. Kluwe had an impressive day against the Cardinals, with a net average of 47.5, no return yardage for Peterson and 2 punts downed inside the 20, one of which was downed at the 3.
It will take another outstanding effort by Kluwe and the rest of the Vikings to keep another outstanding dual threat at bay.
Tags: Chris Kluwe, Leslie Frazier
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