The Arizona Cardinals announced Monday that Greg Toler, their breakout cornerback in 2010, will be out for the season with a torn ACL. Toler tore his left ACL in a preseason loss against the San Diego Chargers Saturday night, and was placed on injured reserve the following day.
While no team likes to be the recipient of such dire news regarding a player, the Arizona Cardinals should be letting out a smile—much like Patrick Peterson is, I'm sure, considering Peterson will now get substantial playing time.
That's playing time that will help him establish himself as the newest shut down corner threat in the NFL.
The reason Patrick Peterson will be great this season will be a trifecta of physical skill, a high motor, and circumstance.
Patrick Peterson has all the gaudy physical stats you look for in an elite athlete, but let's see how he stacks up against the current ideal shut down corner, Darrelle Revis:
Height: 6'1" (Revis - 5'11")
Weight: 222 lbs (Revis - 198)
Bench Press: 15 reps (Revis - 16)
40 YD Dash: 4.34 sec (Revis - 4.38)
Vertical: 38.0 (Revis - 37.0)
Size will undoubtedly be his biggest asset out of the gate. He will be someone that can disrupt the biggest of wide receivers at the line, and also occasionally be a blitz threat with the ability to finish tackles when teams least expect it.
In his last season with LSU, Peterson recorded four interceptions returned for 134 yards, but even more important were his blocked kick and 1.5 sacks.
Combine that with his ability to create havoc in the return game (averaged 29.1 yards on 32 kick returns, 16.1 yards on 26 punt returns, and two of which he returned for touchdowns) you start to understand just how great of a motor this guys possesses.
Lastly, don't underestimate the chip on this youngsters shoulder. Peterson was taken fifth overall in the NFL draft this year, but was listed as No. 1 overall on many draft boards. Something tells me he's the type of player that wants to prove those four other teams that they made the wrong pick.
Despite coach Kent Whisenhunt's penchant for bringing rookies along slowly, circumstances seem to have forced his hand. Peterson will start the season opposite second-year pro A.J. Jefferson, creating one of the youngest corner tandems in the NFL in 2011.
This means that Peterson will get his chance to put himself in between passes and targets more than initially expected, and perhaps take advantage of those trying to take advantage of him.
During the season the issue could become whether anyone picks up the slack opposite him and keeps balls coming to his side of the field. Either way, he will become a guy that offenses have to gameplan around.
Also, with the Cardinals lacking any real weapons in their return game, expect Peterson to still get an opportunity to return punts, even with the substantial bump in playing time he will receive in comparison to what he would've had if Greg Toler were healthy.