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Whisenhunt says Cards' Peterson again will see snaps on offense

by | Senior NFL Columnist
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Patrick Peterson scores in overtime against the Cleveland Browns. (Getty Images)  
Patrick Peterson scores in overtime against the Cleveland Browns. (Getty Images)  

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Antonio Cromartie, move over. Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson will join you on offense.

OK, so Peterson took a handful of snaps there as a rookie last season. He'll be back because ... well because when he has a football in his hands he's downright dangerous and because he's a threat to go the distance.

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I'm talking about Peterson on punt returns where, as a rookie, he scored four times and led the league with an average of 15.9 yards per try. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that maybe, just maybe, he could be as effective with the ball in space ... provided, of course, Arizona settles on a quarterback to get it to him.

"No one's brought it to my attention yet," Peterson said, "but if [the coaches] present the opportunity to me I'll be more than happy to showcase my offensive talents. Oh, man, just give me the ball and let me run."

That sounds like a plan. In fact, coach Ken Whisenhunt already is working on schemes to get Peterson involved on offense. Whisenhunt tried it last season, but only sparingly -- with Peterson catching one pass and rushing once, failing to gain yardage either time.

Nevertheless, he's interested in trying it again, and you don't have to look far to understand why.

"Have you seen him with the ball in his hands?" Whisenhunt asked. "He can catch, and he can throw. I think we can find a couple of ways to use him."

I can think of more. I'm sure Whisenhunt can, too. All I know is that with the ball in his hands and open field in front of him Peterson can be a dangerous weapon. I've seen him dodge tacklers on punt returns, and I don't know why he couldn't do the same on, say, a bubble screen or reverse.

"There's the thinking that he can do that," said Whisenhunt. "There are a multitude of ways, whether it's on a reverse, a quick pass or a number of different things."

The danger, of course, is compromising what you already have -- one of the game's top young cornerbacks and best young returner. I thought the Bears lost something the more they used return specialist Devin Hester as a wide receiver, but don't look for Arizona to turn to Peterson on offense as often as the Bears did Hester.

The Cards have plenty of wide receivers as it is, including rookie Michael Floyd, which means, unlike Cromartie, Peterson has no illusion of moving up the depth chart.

"Oh, no," Peterson laughed, "I'm definitely not the second-best receiver on this team."

But he is a playmaker. So just give him the damned ball.

Arizona will.

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