Patrick Peterson will remain as Cardinals punt returner

USA TODAY Sports

New head coach Bruce Arians confirmed that Patrick Peterson will remain the punt returner despite a down season.

New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians confirmed that cornerback Patrick Peterson will continue to return punts in the 2013 season.

For more Cardinals coverage, check out Revenge Of The Birds

The former No. 5 draft pick had an electric rookie year returning the ball, averaging 15.9 yards and scoring four touchdowns in 2011. Those numbers dipped last season, however, as he only managed 8.4 yards per return and could not find the endzone.

Arians doesn't seem to be concerned about Peterson's low production: ""He can't get his hands on the ball enough for me. As long as the other team is punting, he's going to be back there...until he waves me off and says, ‘Coach, can I take a blow?' "

If Peterson has another slow year on returns, it's worth considering if the extra injury risk is worth the potential field position. There's a precedent for guys who started their careers as returners before eventually focusing on a full-time position. Panthers receiver Steve Smith spent his first four years working both kickoff and punt returns. While he thrived in the job, he was phased out of the return game in 2005 and responded with a career year (103 catches, 1,563 yards, 12 touchdowns).

Likewise, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was a part-time return man for his first two years even though it wasn't a particularly good fit for his skillset. When Dallas finally relieved him of special teams in the middle of the 2012 season, he caught on fire, racking up 50 catches, 879 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last eight games.

Peterson is already a talented defensive back, and he made a huge leap in his game last season, with seven interceptions and 17 passes defensed. Punt returning is about the only question in his game from 2012, and while he has the coach's support for now, he could end up following the career arcs of Smith and Bryant if he struggles again next season.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.