TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona's Patrick Peterson is headed to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his two seasons in the NFL.
This one, he said, means more because he has been chosen as a cornerback. Last year, as a rookie, he made the Pro Bowl as a punt returner.
"To go as a defensive back, that's huge because at the end of the day that's my primary position," Peterson said after the team practiced Thursday. "That's a huge accomplishment for me, so I just want to continue to get better each and every year and now my goal is to go their every year as a cornerback."
Hall of Famer Ron Woodson is the only other player to make the Pro Bowl as a returner and defender. Peterson is the first player to be selected for the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons since Vai Sikahema in 1986-87.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Peterson worked hard to improve at cornerback.
"Attention to detail, study," Whisenhunt said. "I think that's a big part of growing up as a young player is understanding how you have to prepare. We know Patrick is very competitive but he's worked very hard at some of the little things you need to when you get into this league and it's shown up on the field."
Peterson, usually matched against the opponent's top receiver, is tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions. He also has 15 passes defensed, 57 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Peterson, as confident as they come in pro football, says he expected the selection and considers it a reward for the hard work he has done since the Cardinals made him the No. 5 pick overall in the 2011 draft.
"It was a goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year," he said. "I believe I worked extremely hard from OTAs to minicamps to training camp, during the season. It just goes to show the hard work does pay off."
He said he's improved his patience and his technique from his rookie season to this year.
"Being able to understand the game," Peterson said. "It's slowed down tremendously for me. And learning the concepts of the route combination these receivers want to do in certain situations. Just those little things helped me tremendous to come into my second year having a breakout year."
Peterson was fourth at cornerback in fan voting but surged onto the team based on votes from coaches and players.
"That's huge," he said. "That goes to show I do have the respect from my colleagues. The fans, they're going off stats and all that stuff, but coaches, they look at the film. They break down the film. They watch the technique. They watch how hard I work each and every play. I tip my hat off to the coaches and players who helped me get this spot."
Peterson is Arizona's only Pro Bowl selection. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald were chosen as alternates.
"I am kind of disappointed," Washington said. "I guess today kind of showed it a little bit. Guys were kind of encouraging me. I thought I really had it in the book, but you've got to give credit to those guys in front of me, Lavar Bowman and Patrick Willis. Those guys have much respect for me and I wish those guys the best. Hopefully they get to the title game so I can get in there somehow, but much respect to those guys."
Whisenhunt said that with Washington "coming out of nowhere" to prominence, it sometimes takes a year for his performance to reflect in the Pro Bowl balloting. Washington, in his third pro season, has nine sacks, one shy of the franchise best for a linebacker. He leads the team with 128 tackles, 110 solos, with an interception, 14 quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Fitzgerald is a six-time Pro Bowl player, including the last five seasons in a row. But he was surprised to get any mention after all the quarterback troubles of the Arizona offense, which ranks last in the NFL. The quarterbacks' inability to get the ball to Fitzgerald is a big reason the team has lost 10 of 11 after a 4-0 start.
The franchise record holder in virtually all receiving categories, Fitzgerald has 69 catches for 785 yards and four touchdowns. With one game remaining, Sunday at San Francisco, he seems likely to fall short of 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in six years.
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