Peterson ready to put injuries, flags behind him

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson leads the NFL with nine penalties this season.


Ron Chenoy/Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. — Patrick Peterson suspected he leads the NFL in penalties. Reporters on Wednesday confirmed it for him. 

"Thank you," Peterson said with mock gratitude.

Former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton used to say officials needed to adjust to Peterson’s physical style because he’s very talented. Peterson this season has learned the hard way it is he who must adjust. He has been called for nine penalties, including one that was declined.

Officials have put an emphasis on eliminating downfield contact from defenders on receivers, leading to a rise in defensive holding and pass interference penalties. Peterson was flagged twice more against the Cowboys on Sunday.

"The refs are just doing their job," Peterson said. "As a cornerback, I have to play within the rules."

Peterson still feels the first penalty was on an uncatchable ball, but he acknowledged he wrapped up his man. On the second, he felt he was fouled more than the receiver on an illegal hands to the face call. 

"They always tend to call the defensive guy vs. the offensive guy," he said. "At the end of the day, I still have to go out there and play football. I can’t be thinking about if the refs are going to throw the flag."

Peterson before Sunday’s game vowed it would be a springboard for the rest of his season. He held Dallas receiver Dez Bryant to two catches for 15 yards and a touchdown after the game was decided. 

An ankle injury and a concussion hampered Paterson this season as he tries to live up to a recently signed five-year, $70-million extension, which made him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. Coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Peterson has also been dealing with some health issues nobody knows about. But Peterson believes the Dallas game was indeed a turning point and pronounced himself 100 percent healthy and ready to go.

"It’s only going to get better from here," he said.

This week’s opponent, St. Louis, has suffered through another rash of key injuries this season. The Rams lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford for a second straight season to an ACL tear. They also lost defensive end Chris Long for 8-10 weeks with a left ankle injury suffered in the season opener, left Jake Long for the season to an ACL tear and receiver Brian Quick to a rotator cuff injury.

"With respect to Jake and Sam, I’m especially disappointed, particularly because it was a recurrence," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We watched them worked so hard through the offseason to maybe get back and at the level which they were playing. To have to face that setback again is very, very personally disappointing for them."

Even so, the Rams have managed to knock off NFC West rivals Seattle (28-26) and San Francisco (13-10 last week) in two of the past three weeks, giving them two of their three wins this season within the division. All of this despite playing second-year QB Austin Davis and a number of young players on defense.

"We’ve got four or five rookies on defense or in the secondary because of the injuries, but whoever’s going out there and playing, they’re doing the best they can," said Fisher, whose team posted seven sacks against San Francisco. "Obviously, the sack numbers are coming back. We had a rough month. 

"We knew eventually we would be able to come up with a few of them, and certainly that was a big part of our win last week."

Gov. Jay Nixon asked former Anheuser-Busch executive David Peacock and Robert Blitz, the attorney for the public Edward Jones Dome authority, to lead a 60-day analysis of options to keep the Rams in St. Louis, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

Nixon wouldn’t say if he’s met with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, or how much money it will take to keep the Rams, but he expects private investment to be part of the solution, whether it’s an overhaul of the Edward Jones Dome, or a new open-air stadium on the riverfront downtown, as has been reported.

Under the terms of the lease that the Rams signed, the Edward Jones Dome is required to be ranked in the top tier of NFL stadiums through the 2015 season. In May 2012, the Dome was ranked by Time Magazine as the seventh worst major sports stadium in the United States. In 2008, St. Louis fans ranked it in a Sports Illustrated poll as the worst of any NFL stadium, with particularly low marks for tailgating, affordability and atmosphere.

Justin Bethel was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a field goal in the Cardinals’ 28-17 win over the Cowboys on Sunday.

Bethel’s block came on the final play of the first half to help preserve a four-point lead. It was his third block in the past two seasons and the 18th blocked field goal for the Cardinals since 2008, the highest total in the league by far over that span. Seattle is second with 10.

Bethel blocked nine kicks at Presbyterian College. He led the team last season with 21 special-teams tackles to earn a Pro Bowl spot. He has eight this year.

Bethel is the third Cardinals player to win special teams player of the week this season, joining punt returner Ted Ginn in Week 2 and kicker Chandler Catanzaro in Week 6.

For the Rams, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), CB E.J. Gaines (knee), TE Cory Harkey (knee), DE William Hayes (fibula), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S Rodney McLeod (knee) and CB Marcus Robinson (ankle) did not practice. 

S Cody Davis (concussion) was limited. 

— The Cardinals re-signed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston to the practice squad on Tuesday. Gaston was released three days earlier when the Cardinals promoted running back Kerwynn Williams from the practice squad in the wake of Stepfan Taylor’s calf injury.

— Offensive linemen Lyle Sendlein (boy) and Paul Fanaika (girl) each welcomed new children into the world on Tuesday. Sendlein named his Crew Jack Sendlein after the lead character in one of his favorite movies, Rad, a 1986 BMX bike film.

The local telecast of Sunday’s win over Dallas generated a 28.3 rating and a 53 share. It was seen in 519,000 Valley homes making it the team’s most-watched road game ever, according to the NFL and The Nielsen Company.

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