For Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, his sophomore campaign has been a trying one. As a rookie, Peterson was a dynamic force on the field and made his presence known early and often. But as his performance elevated, so did expectations.
This season, the Cardinals' cornerback and punt return specialist has struggled to find his groove, and seemingly has been pressing to try to make a play happen.
Special teams coach Kevin Spencer said he's aware of his opponents' approach when it comes to covering Peterson and he's trying to make adjustments accordingly.
"I know what people are trying to do so what can we do a little bit more effectively, whether it be technique or scheme to try to get a crack to get him going," Spencer said.
Spencer said he's not dwelling on the past and instead evaluating ways the team can get their promising young star back on track.
"I think it's just we've got to move forward and again I think [Peterson] is just trying too hard," Spencer stated. "When have you ever seen a game where he put two balls on the ground? I think he's just trying so desperately to make a play that even he is playing outside of himself."
Last year, the 22-year-old had four touchdowns and a punt return average of 15.9 yards. This season, he's getting only 7.7 yards per return.
Peterson has made some critical gaffes in games this season, most recently a late fumble against the Green Bay Packers. For the year, Peterson has fumbled the ball five times and has dropped balls against the Dolphins and Packers.
"He's not that good where he can have one eye on a guy coming down field and one eye on the ball. You got to take care of business and ball security first and foremost," Spencer said.
Peterson's struggles could be a result of him trying too hard, but opponents now have a solid scouting report on him and won't let the talented youngster beat them.
"It's a challenge. Last year we might have snuck up on some folks but this year that's not going to happen," Spencer said. "So I guess it's just we got to have a good scheme and when it happens, we've got to take advantage of it. It might only be once a game, but we got to be ready to get it done and do it better than we have thus far."
Peterson will need to make adjustments to his game to break out of his slump this season and also to ensure long-term success in this league.