The New England Patriots knew all about Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals defense, but it wasn't a acrobatic catch or Calais Campbell batting down passes at the line of scrimmage that had players buzzing after film sessions.
The locker room was too busy buzzing over cornerback Patrick Peterson's punt return skills to discuss anything else.
"We might lose a little sleep over this guy because he's that talented," special teams ace Matthew Slater said.
Peterson, the fifth pick in the 2011 draft, returned 44 punts for 699 yards with four touchdowns, including a game-winner in overtime against St. Louis Rams where he broke two tackles and was spun around by a third potential tackler before breaking free for the 99-yard score.
After watching each of his returns, the Patriots say they haven't come any closer to devising a way to slow Peterson.
"He's fast enough to outrun people and strong enough to run through them," coach Bill Belichick said. "If they do get a good shot at him, he's 220 pounds. You have to tackle this guy and he's moving, he's fast. Catching him is a problem, getting him down is a problem."
The Patriots aren't necessarily going to spend extra time in practice preparing for Peterson this week, though each rep will with be met with added focus since players on the coverage team understand they could quickly lose control of the game this week.
"We have to play to the whistle. We can't go down there and think, 'Oh, the ball is on the ground and we're close to it and he's going to let it go,'" cornerback and special teams player Marquice Cole said. "He'll get it on the bounce and try to make a play out of it. We have to be aware of all that."
Ridley looking forward: Patriots running back Stevan Ridley wants to make it clear that he isn't satisfied after running for 125 yards on 21 carries Sunday against the Tennessee Titans and is only forward looking, but he did pause to reflect on how last season ended when he fumbled in Week 17 and again in the playoffs. Now he vows to never allow it to happen again. "Being sat down in the AFC Championship pretty much is a lesson learned," Ridley said. "I'm trying not to repeat the same mistakes."
Nose not an issue: Tom Brady said that his nose is feeling better after he injured it Sunday against the Titans. He shed the bandage that he wore earlier this week, leaving behind a faint red scar on the bridge of his nose. "Yeah, it's OK," he said. "My wife likes it, so I'm good."
P-squad moves: The Patriots signed safety Chyl Quarles to the practice squad and released tight end Alex Silvestro Wednesday. Quarles, a 23-year-old rookie, was released by the Ravens on Aug. 31. He recorded 239 tackles and two interceptions during his collegiate career with Wake Forest. Silvestro spent most of last season on the Patriots' practice squad before attempting to convert to tight end this offseason.
Practice report: OL Dan Connolly (head) was the only player who did not participate in Wednesday's practice; Limited: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Daniel Fells (shin), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (foot) and OL Sebastian Vollmer (back). Full participant: S Patrick Chung (shoulder).