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Patrick Peterson might not return punts vs. 49ers

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Taking him off punts is one way to reduce his workload.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are a bit banged up as they enter Week 12 and are set to travel to play the San Francisco 49ers on the road this week. One of the most significant injuries is cornerback Patrick Peterson, who injured his ankle on Sunday in the fourth quarter in the Cardinals 34-31 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. While he is likely to play this coming weekend, there could be a change in his role.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said there is a possibility Peterson would not return punts. "That's something we'll talk about," Arians said. "He doesn't want to (not return punts), but we'll talk about it."

That would mean rookie receiver J.j. Nelson would take over. Nelson began the season as the team's punt returner until he muffed a punt and injured himself on the same play in Chicago.

Peterson is averaging 8.2 yards per return on 24 returns. Twice he has returned a punt for more than 20 yards. Nelson has only returned three for 15 yards, but he was a dynamic returner in college and he showed flashes in the preseason.

There are many who feel Peterson shouldn't even play on Sunday so he can completely heal for the home stretch of the season. However, he is not wired that way and he is a key part of what the Cardinals do on defense. So if sitting out is out of the question, it would make sense to give the punts to someone else.