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Arians impressed with close-up look at CB Peterson

Wednesday - 6/12/2013, 6:14pm  ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer talks with receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during an NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 12, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Entering his third NFL season, Patrick Peterson is impressing a new staff of coaches with his eye-popping skills.

Coach Bruce Arians says he knew the young cornerback was special but now that he's seen him up close he's even more impressed.

"The first interception the first day, he tipped it to himself and made a one-handed catch," Arians said. "I knew he was special, but until you get around an athlete and practice with him you don't know how special he is. This guy's as good as there is."

Peterson was back with the team at minicamp this week after missing some OTA sessions due to a death in the family. His goal this year is to return to the big-play punt return success of his rookie season while improving his performance as a shut-down cornerback after making the Pro Bowl at the position last season.

"It's all about putting everything in one pot," he said, "and the recipe's gonna be some gumbo."

Not that he's above reproach.

Peterson picked off Carson Palmer's pass and zipped toward the end zone during Wednesday's practice, and Arians noted that it was a two-minute drill and late in the game, if you intercept a pass, go to a knee to avoid a costly fumble.

Peterson's instinct always is to go for the end zone, especially since as a defensive back he doesn't get the ball in his hands all that often.

"I want to get back to getting in the end zone," he said. "That's what I love to do. There's nothing like putting up points as a defensive player. It's all about putting everything together. It's about getting back out there and everything clicking on all cylinders."

As a rookie, after Arizona selected him fifth overall in the draft out of LSU, he set an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to win a game against St. Louis, making the Pro Bowl as a special teams player. Last year, opponents bottled him up on the sidelines. Even if he did get it in the open field, defenders seemed to be on him so soon he had no room to break free.

"Those guys were really dialed in last year on making sure they had fast gunners that could get down there and put pressure on me as I'm trying to field the ball and get elusive with those guys with the ball in my hands," Peterson said.

Last year, he said, there were some problems with the punt-return blocking, problems that the new coaching staff is working to correct.

"Not only I believe, but the team knows," Peterson said, "once the ball is in my hands and I have five or more yards, special things can happen."

Peterson said he doesn't feel he needs to prove himself all over again to a new coaching staff. He has, after all, a body of work for them to recognize. He has started every game at cornerback since he arrived in the league.

"I have 32 games under my belt as a starter," he said. "I believe I'm going to continue to prove myself growing into my own over these last couple of years. You know it's all about getting better. Proving myself to these guys, I don't think that's necessary. These guys, either they played against me or they saw film of me. So it's all about bettering myself and working hard every day."

The Cardinals cut their workout a bit short in the stifling heat Wednesday. While they were on the field, they were watched by a contingent of college assistant coaches, as well as by University of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The three-day minicamp began with a session open to the public Tuesday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, with an estimated 12,000 fans in attendance.

Before that practice, Cardinals President Michael Bidwill confirmed that the team would hold its training camp in the stadium, ending its long run at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

The practices at the stadium will be open to the public. An exact date for training camp has not been announced.

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx


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