Injuries are part of the game in the NFL. As Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt quickly pointed out after Monday's practice, the Green Bay Packers had a number of injuries last season and they, "came through it OK." With news that starting cornerback Greg Toler is out for the season with a torn ACL, opportunity will now fall on two young players, A.J. Jefferson and rookie Patrick Peterson.
Jefferson went undrafted out of Fresno in 2010 and found himself on the practice squad last year. Whisenhunt said he's performed well in training camp and preseason so far this year and was already starting games for the Cardinals.
"My work ethic. My competitiveness. I play with a chip on my shoulder not being drafted. I take that with me anytime I'm on the field. Competition is my success," Jefferson said. He's not at all surprised to find himself starting in the NFL.
Peterson also doesn't lack for confidence. "If the opportunity is presented to me, I'll be more than happy to take the opportunity," Peterson said, "I believe I'm ready, but the decision is ultimately going to be the coaches decision."
The coaching staff is clearly impressed with his raw talent and skills but would have liked more time to bring him along.
"I'm glad we have more time before the regular season," Whisenhunt said. "Patrick's worked hard. He's an intelligent young man, he's very serious about getting better...I don't think it's a question of 'if'. It's a question of when it all clicks for him. It certainly seems to be moving in that direction"
Peterson split time at practice Monday with veteran Richard Marshall running with the first unit. Marshall has improved as he's had more time to adjust to the team according to Whisenhunt, "I feel very good about Richard. I'm glad he's on our football team and I think he's going to make significant contributions for us this year."
Another cornerback, Michael Adams, is on his way back from a knee injury. He participated in a limited way in practice on Monday and is expected back soon.
Just as with the running back situation, the team doesn't feel a "panic" to go out and get another player. They will, of course, keep their eyes open and see what opportunities might present themselves, but overall Whisenhunt is expressing confidence in his young players.
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