It has been no secret that the Arizona Cardinals have struggled mightily on Special Teams. The team has had issues in every aspect of the unit, from kick and punt returns to punting and making field goals. The team has tried time and time again to fix, or at least slap some Flex Seal on it. Nothing managed to fix their problems.
Patrick Peterson has been on and off as the team's returner. Following his electric 2011 season, in which he returned his four punts for touchdowns, and had it not been for a shoestring tackle, would have had a fifth. He’s rotated among John Brown, who emerged as the team's speedster in 2015, JJ Nelson, who often .fumbles, and numerous other players
Peterson is once again penciled in as the Cardinals 2017 returner. Things can change, especially after the team drafted TJ Logan. Logan has admitted he has not taken a game punt but has done plenty of work in practice. If the team sees something from Logan, Peterson will be safe.
Arians knows when to be cautious. He would never have become an NFL Head Coach if he did not. He would know if putting Peterson out to return punts is too dangerous for the team's top corner. But if Peterson does become the team's primary return man, it only takes one hit, one play, to put him on the sideline.
Using Peterson as the returner, especially now that he has become one of the top corners in the NFL, is too risky. The unit has shown very little in recent years in creating blocks for their returner. If Peterson were to go down, the lack of depth at the cornerback position would ruin any hope this team has for the 2017 season. That is why the team shoud limit the danger and place an unproven.
Losing a guy like TJ Logan would not hinder the team’s chances this season. It would hurt to see a talented rookie get injured, but he is not a crucial cog. Chad Williams has some experience returning punts, returning six in his career. Again, he’s not a crucial element, but it would hurt to see a talented rookie go down.
Losing either of those guys isn’t killer. It hurts the depth at those positions, hurts their development, but not the Cardinals ultimate goal of a Super Bowl ring. Does this unit rebound? Unlikely, but if they did my comfort level with allowing Peterson to return grows ever so slightly.
What about you? Are you comfortable watching Peterson return punts? Or would you prefer someone who is less vital? Let me know.