Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Lauds Patrick Peterson’s Quality Veteran Presence

Calvin Austin III

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson challenged young receiver Calvin Austin III as the team prepares to face the Cleveland Browns without Donate Johnson.

Patrick Peterson has been around the way in the NFL as a superstar cornerback and has made his impact felt in more ways than one as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peterson headlines the Steelers’ potent secondary, and head coach Mike Tomlin said he likes what he sees from the former All-Pro honoree that goes unnoticed outside of game days.

Peterson’s Leadership Noticed By Teammates and Coaches

Tomlin shared these sentiments on Peterson’s veteran presence helping to cultivate young talent on the team, saying, “It’s just good to have a veteran player that’s a quality human being like him, because he is very much a component of raising some of the young ones that are contributing and contributing big.”

Peterson has been active in getting rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. comfortable in the Steelers’ system. Porter Jr. accentuated Peterson’s impact earlier in the season, and learning from an elite player at his position has shown. He’s now the permanent starter over Levi Wallace and has made big plays in big games, including his first career interception, on October 8 in a 17-10 win over the division rival Baltimore Ravens.

Peterson has also made an impression on another rookie, cornerback Darius Rush. The 23-year-old defensive back had this to say about Peterson’s eye for the game and how it has enhanced his own, per Noah Strackbein of Fan Nation:

“You can just pick his brain and it improves me and my game from an IQ standpoint rather than just going out there playing,” Strackbein wrote in an October 22 story. “You can really understand in the game a little bit more. So, to have him in the room and be able to have a conversation with him about football is going to help me in the long run in terms of my game from an IQ standpoint.”

Peterson Carries Immeasurable Experience Covering Superstar Receivers

Clearly, Peterson is a driving force behind the Steelers’ successful defense. What he brings to the table is immeasurable. Peterson has made a name for himself behind 3 All-Pro selections and 8 consecutive Pro Bowl honors. His body of work earned him a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

Peterson has covered some of the most dynamic wide receivers in the league in that span, including Julio Jones (Philadelphia Eagles)Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Antonio Brown — deep ball threats that have executed at a high level in the end zone.

His career numbers speak to his high IQ. Peterson has allowed only 4.6 yards after the catch to receivers he’s lined up against. His 13.1 yards per reception allowed is on par with two of his closest contemporaries — Buffalo Bills star Stephon Gilmore (13.1 yards per reception) and retired star CB Richard Sherman (13.3 yards per reception). Further, his ability to read receivers’ hips and avoid getting thrown off of position is exemplified by his 10.7% missed tackles rate.

Peterson Remains Willing to Fill New Shoes With Steelers

Peterson comes to work with the right attitude even at 33 years of age. He’s relishing his new responsibilities, including seeing time at safety for the injured Minkah Fitzpatrick. For Peterson, it’s all about doing what it takes to help the team win and allow other guys in the secondary to see time as well, as he told the media last Thursday, Nov. 10:

“It does feel different because I never had the opportunity to do it in any of the other places I was at,” he said. “Like I talked about early on when I first signed here, coach [Mike Tomlin] told me I would have opportunity to do that. My eyes just lit up because I want to be a ballplayer and be at any position they feel, and I feel can help the team be successful.”

Sliding over to safety has freed up opportunities for his teammates in a crowded cornerback depth chart. His malleability is something that Tomlin has recognized and doesn’t take for granted. It also gives the younger guys a blueprint on how to achieve longevity in their careers.

The Steelers are 6-3 and in the hunt to win the AFC South. With Peterson continuing to lead on and off the field, Pittsburgh is in the mix to unseat the Baltimore Ravens and fend off the Cleveland Browns for the division crown and make a strong playoff run. What his teammates have taken away from his example will be paramount even beyond this season.

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