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Patrick Peterson Playing Safety? Mike Tomlin Says to Expect It



Steelers Patrick Peterson

PHOENIX — Patrick Peterson is champing at the bit to reinvent his career in his upcoming age 33 season.  While the future Hall of Famer has played cornerback his entire career, he seemed extremely open to the idea of playing at multiple positions in the future.

In his introductory press conference, Peterson peddled the idea that he could not only play outside cornerback but slip inside to the slot and play in safety-like positions, too. While there has been some experimenting with Peterson about the idea over his career, he has never fully embraced the idea of a swiss army knife. But that could all change in Pittsburgh.

“I feel like if you shoehorn someone into one role, especially when they’re a great athlete, you’re doing the athlete a disservice,” Peterson said at his introductory press conference. “I’d love to move around and do new things. I can play in the slot or do some things at safety. I’ve begged coaches to do that in the past. At this age, the game is so much slower for me. I can do all of that.”

Well, it seems that Peterson might just get his wish. When discussing what Peterson brings to the table on the field at the NFL owner’s meetings, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned that he sees Peterson as a guy who can do a lot of things. In fact, the two sides already talk about Peterson’s versatility. It seems entirely likely that Peterson could see some snaps outside of just cornerback.

“He’s versatile, he is, not only in terms of his talents but his intellect, and we’re not going to be bashful about moving him around. He and I have already had that discussion. I think he’s really excited about the prospects of that,” Tomlin said.

Moving forward, it seems that Patrick Peterson will hold the role of late-career Joe Haden. That means being a versatile chess piece that the Steelers can rely upon to be a mentor and locker-room leader. As it stands, Pittsburgh will look towards Peterson to be that ballhawk on the back end who can still be a leader off the field.

It is a role that Peterson seemed enthused about throughout his discussions with the team. For a Hall of Famer to reinvent the wheel at a late-career stop is not unheard of in the NFL. After all, Rod Woodson even moved to safety in Baltimore after being one of the cornerbacks in the NFL during his time there. That is not to say that Peterson becomes a full-time safety, but his football intelligence will allow him to embrace many roles and positions that can make him a wholly unique player on the roster.

“The intangible quality. His football character. His love and passion for the game,” Tomlin said of Peterson. “I think that is just something to be learned from. We had the benefits of a guy like Joe Haden with a similar resume and love and passion for the game. Pat P obviously is a guy that brings something beyond his resume and playmaking capabilities, which is an asset to football teams.

“When guys can be living examples of what to do and how to go about this professional football business, I just think we all benefit from that and he is that. I think that’s something that I’ve known about him, even prior to him being in the National Football League. That guy is a football lover and appreciator of this game and I think his actions reflect that.”

Moving forward, expect Peterson to be a cornerstone of the secondary for the next two years. Tomlin and he met all the way back when Peterson was a teenager, and so now as a grizzled, older veteran, Peterson is set up to be the example in the room moving forward. However, more importantly, he is scheduled to be a guy that plays multiple different spots.