Patrick Peterson Admits He’s ‘Still Getting His Feet Wet’ At New Positions, But Feels Communication Improving
Just because Pittsburgh Steelers DB Patrick Peterson is in his 13th season in the NFL doesn’t mean he isn’t learning new things. Peterson has been lining up all over the secondary rather than playing outside corner like he has most of his career.
While Peterson has been learning these different positions, the rest of the secondary has grappled with upheaval. Rookie CB Joey Porter Jr. has staked a claim to a starting cornerback spot. The safety position has been in flux with multiple players being injured including Minkah Fitzpatrick and Keanu Neal. In fact, both of those players will be out Sunday afternoon when the Steelers travel for the second matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
That makes communication in the secondary even more important on Sunday. When Peterson addressed the media on Friday, he was asked about how moving around has gone for him and how that affects communication with the rest of the secondary, and Steelers.com captured his response on video.
“Still getting my feet wet,” Peterson said. “I really feel like my communication is getting better week in and week out because I’m still new at all the different positions that I’ve been playing throughout this season. It’s been so, so much fun for me, because it gives me an opportunity not only to be engaged into the game plan but gives me an opportunity to line up in different spots to have an opportunity to make plays versus just being lined up on the outside of the numbers. I’m only gonna get certain amount of routes, there’s only certain things I can jump. Now being a ball player, like I alluded to last week, I have an opportunity to read a quarterback and try to make plays on the football.”
While Peterson only has one interception on the season and it came back in the Week Three win over the Las Vegas Raiders, he still made an impact play on the ball last Sunday in the 23-19 win over the Green Bay Packers. He covered WR Christian Watson perfectly, and when QB Jordan Love fired into the end zone, Peterson made an incredibly heady play and tipped the ball into the air and away from Watson. There it fell into the waiting arms of Neal who caught it for the interception.
That’s just expert-level awareness by Peterson to not only know where the route is going but to know that Neal would be in the vicinity with a chance to make a play.
On Sunday, the secondary will have a very interesting task: stopping a Browns offense led by rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The expectation is that the Browns will rely on the ground game as they typically want to do, and that requires a lot of communication to ensure defensive backs are where they need to be against the run. Then you factor in a largely unknown quantity at quarterback, and communication on every play needs to be smooth, quick, and precise.
All that without either Fitzpatrick or Neal who have already been ruled out for the game. That means that Peterson, regardless of where he will be lining up, will need to use that awareness he showed against Green Bay and his 12+ years of NFL experience to help keep the secondary where it should be. He says the communication has been getting better each and every week, and that trend needs to continue on Sunday.