‘Nobody Throws’ at Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Even without Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals' secondary will pose a big challenge for Green Bay's struggling passing attack.

The Arizona Cardinals lost do-it-all defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to a season-ending knee injury last week.

That, however, doesn’t lessen the enormity of the challenge facing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the struggling Green Bay Packers’ passing attack.

The Cardinals rank only 16th against the pass and 11th in yards allowed per passing attempt. However, the Cardinals are No. 5 in opponent passer rating, thanks to 18 interceptions – fourth-most in the league by number and third-best in terms of percentage of opponent pass attempts.

The star of the show is cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is the definition of shutdown cornerback. He has 17 interceptions in five seasons, including two this year.

“Nobody’s played better in the league than Patrick,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said in a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday morning. “I mean, nobody throws at him. Whoever he gets is canceled out. Has been for most of the season.”

Without Mathieu, who was arguably the league’s top slot defender, Arians said he’d turn to Jerraud Powers, who handled those duties last season. That would put Powers on Green Bay’s top receiver, Randall Cobb. More than likely, Arians would put Peterson on James Jones in an attempt to take away the Packers’ lone big-play threat. Jones ranks third in the NFL with 18.1 yards per reception and has a team-high eight touchdowns. Davante Adams, on the other hand, is averaging only 9.0 yards per catch. Out of the 81 wide receivers with at least 28 catches (two per game), Adams ranks 78th in yards per catch.

The loss of Jordy Nelson to a preseason knee injury, Arians said, is the biggest reason why Rodgers’ numbers have dropped so much after winning his second MVP award last year. Rodgers was picked for the Pro Bowl team on Tuesday but ranks 12th in passer rating. The quarterback with the highest passer rating in NFL history hasn’t even reached 100 since Week 6. As a team, Green Bay has the 26th-ranked passing attack.

“The receivers are different,” Arians said. “He’d lost some guys that I think he had an unbelievable rapport with and chemistry with. It looks like they’re building it with James and Cobb and a couple of those guys – and the young tight end (Richard Rodgers).”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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