Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson mounted an impressive rookie campaign for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. He was also explosive in the role of kick return specialist, after tying the single season record for punt return touchdowns with four.
As Peterson prepares for his sophomore season with the Cardinals, a noticeable maturity abounds from the 21-year-old aspiring star.
"I changed tremendously," Peterson told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Monday. "Just sitting back and watching some of what these [veterans] does. I kind of want to mold myself into that type of athlete, the way Larry [Fitzgerald] is. He's a great guy in the community. He's a great captain on the team."
Peterson marvels at the veteran leadership in the Cardinals' locker room and looks up to his elders as role models and inspiration.
"When I came in that's what I surrounded myself around, veterans and guys that have been there, done that and that had the opportunity to be in that spotlight and kind of follow in those guys footsteps into that situation, as well," Peterson said.
Peterson knows his exceptional punt return skills brings significant value to the Cardinals' special teams, however he still believes he can handle the responsibility of playing two positions on a full-time basis.
"I believe I am still young and I can still be back there, play in and play out," Peterson stated. "I think I have the versatility to go out there and play corner every down and play the punt return position every down, as well."
Peterson's youthful exuberance is indeed refreshing, but don't expect him to rest on his laurels next season as his list of goals for the 2012 season is lofty.
"I am going to be more aggressive, had an opportunity to go back and watch the film and watching the mistakes that I did make as a young corner, that's definitely not going to show up," Peterson explained. "Definitely more interceptions, that's definitely on my goal list. I believe I'll have plenty of shots of getting that."
The excitement in Peterson's voice is palpable and if his prediction holds weight, the Cardinals could be in for quite a wild ride this season.
"I have a feeling this year is going to be special," Peterson said. "Stay tuned."