Even with a number of other rookies that had excellent seasons, such as the Panthers Cam Newton, the BengalsAndy Dalton or the 49ersAldon Smith, Peterson was humbled to be the only rookie recognized on the All-Pro squad:
"It’s special to be the only rookie on the list and a nice way to end my first NFL season," said Peterson.
Peterson tied a NFL record with four punt return TD’s this season, including a 99-yard game winner in overtime. He also led the league this year in punt return yardage as well.
Arizona Cardinals rookie cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson was one of the most electric players this year in all of the NFL not just the rookie class, but he has been honored alongside some of his finest rookie counterparts by being nominated for the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year.
Peterson is up against some stiff competition in the Panters Cam Newton, the Bengals Andy Dalton, the 49ers Aldon Smith, and the Broncos Von Miller; and all five candidates are more than worthy of this award. Peterson's resume during his 2011 campaign is incredibly impressive though, even as much or more so than the others.
Peterson started all 16 games for the Cardinals this season, finishing first in the NFL in punt return yards and second in punt return average. The four, count 'em four, punt return touchdowns are tied for the most in a single season in NFL history, which included a game winning return in overtime as well.
On the defensive side of the ball Peterson recorded 64 tackles, including 59 solo squashes, along with 13 passes defended, two interceptions and a sack. Peterson will be heading to Hawaii to take part in the Pro-Bowl as a kick returner as well.
When Patrick Peterson was drafted by the Cardinals fifth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft he could not have asked for a better situation. In the secondary, he was surrounded by veterans to guide him in his rookie season. Veterans like pro-bowler Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes.
Peterson also was matched up against Larry Fitzgerald everyday in practice. While Fitzgerald taught Peterson lessons that the rookie will never forget, Peterson impressed Fitzgerald on and off the field.
"He (Peterson) is a real team guy," said the five-time pro-bowler Fitzgerald. "He works his tail off every single day at his craft," said Fitzgerald.
Peterson came in and had an immediate impact on special teams. He set an NFL rookie record with 699 punt return yards, and tied an NFL record with four punt return touchdowns.
Peterson had his ups and downs as a corner in 2011. Peterson finished 2011 with 64 tackles, 13 pass deflections and two interceptions. Fitzgerald believes that Peterson has all the tools to become an elite corner in the league.
"He's got great ball skills, good instincts, he'll come up and tackle you, he can press you, he is quick enough in and off coverage that he can break on any pass," said Fitzgerald.
Peterson has high expectations for himself and expects to one day be the best cornerback in NFL. "I feel like I could have done better (this season)," said Peterson. "Next year I feel like I will be a much improved football player," said Peterson.
Peterson will continue to improve with a full offseason playing alongside Wilson and Rhodes and playing against Fitzgerald.
Patrick Peterson may some day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. It's a tad early yet to call the Arizona Cardinals rookie a "lock" for the prestigious honor but he's already got one foot in the door. Or two shoes to be factually correct.
The Hall of Fame announced they have inducted Peterson's cleats that he wore during his 99-yard game winning punt return touchdown against the St. Louis Rams on November 6. The shoes commemorate Peterson as the only player ever to have four punt return touchdowns of 80 yards more. The four also ties an NFL record for the most punt return TDs in a season.
Peterson has five more games to break and own the record and will surely do so if opposing teams continue to kick him the ball in the middle of the field.
The size 12, Nike cleats are now part of the Hall's permanent collection. The look great and probably even smell like winning.
Now, the next trick for Peterson will be to get his jersey in the Hall for setting some records as a cornerback.
And oh, by the way, Peterson was named (for the second time) the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week thanks to this play. Ho hum.