NFL training camp: Patrick Peterson 'could be one of the top 5 WRs in the league'

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Bowl cornerback getting looks as a receiver.

Patrick Peterson has been to the Pro Bowl as a returner and a cornerback. While he likely won't make Pro Bowl as an offensive player, you can add offensive player to his resume for now because he is getting a lot of looks on the offensive side of the ball in training camp.

On Friday, he caught what would have been a touchdown pass and, after getting the ball on an end around, he even completed a pass to Larry Fitzgerald.

Head coach Bruce Arians knew coming into this year that he wanted to find opportunities to get the ball in Peterson's hands, being that he can be a dynamic playmaker. Turns out he is getting more than he bargained for.

"I had hopes that he could be something special in a package a week," Arians told the media on Saturday. "But after you see the athlete he is, it's like, he probably could be one of the top five receivers in the league. So you say 'hmm, that's a whole lot of weapon sitting next to me.'"

Wait...a receiver of the same caliber of Larry Fitzgerald? Peterson was told of the comment and he danced around the comment. Don't expect him to suddenly become an regular offensive player.

"Coach just put me on the spot,' responded Peterson. "I don't know. My primary position is cornerback, but if he feels I could be a top five receiver, I'm not complaining at all.

He said that he is athletic enough to play any of the skill positions.

We have seen Peterson on offense a few times over the last couple of years. He took a few direct snaps in "wildcat" formations, or "PatCat," as he likes to call it. Don't expect to see that. "He's (Arians) not a wildcat type of guy," said Peterson. Instead, he lines up as a receiver.

Right now, Peterson is included in about 15 plays, "but it wouldn't be that many in a one-game plan," said Arians.

That could raise concerns about wearing him down. Arians said that using Peterson offensively "would depend on how our defense is playing." Peterson likely would not come in after being on the field a long time defensively.

Now, if Peterson needs a rest, he could give way to Tyrann Mathieu or Javier Arenas on punt returns, but Arians downplayed that. "I don't want to take too many touches away from him."

Peterson did say that he has to be honest with the coaches about how tired he is, but prides himself for the shape he is in.

"My body can take the wear and tear," he said. "I feel I'm the best conditioned guy on the team."

Likewise, he also downplayed possible concerns about his defense suffering as a result. "Being a guy that's going to mainly play man-to-man, I don't have that big an assignment on defense," he said about the learning he has to do. "Taking offensive snaps definitely won't take away from my defensive reps."

Peterson has tried to model his game after Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Sanders got time on the offensive side of the ball as well. Peterson is a rare talent, much like Sanders, who could potentially make impact plays in all three phases of the game.

The bottom line?

"I believe that once I do have the ball in my hand and I have enough space to operate with, I can be a threat to opposing defenses."

He already is threat on defense and special teams. It's going to happen this year offensively, as well.

On a separate note, with how the Pro Bowl is changing, you might as well lock up a spot for Peterson on one of the squads every single year. He's the type of player that will get selected early and every single year.

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