TEMPE, Ariz. — Patrick Peterson wasn’t expected to show for Arizona Cardinals voluntary organized team activities. But when the team began full squad practices Monday, he wasn’t the only notable player not in attendance.
Running back David Johnson, receiver Larry Fitzgerald and pass-rusher Terrell Suggs were among the notable veterans not present.
“It’s voluntary and we understand that,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “If guys miss, we have a plan to get them caught up.”
Yet the loss of Peterson will loom larger than that of the other Arizona players missing OTAs. Last week, the NFL suspended him six games after he violated the performance-enhancing drug rules of the league.
“It’s disappointing obviously, but you deal with adversity as a team. We all support Pat and know what type of player he is and person he is, and we’ll all be excited to see him back,” Kingsbury said.
“You don’t replace a guy like that obviously.”
They must, in the meantime.
Peterson told reporters last Thursday during his charity event that he would do his due diligence to be ready for pratices when they become mandatory June 11 for mini-camp. He can practice and play through the preseason, but the eight-time Pro Bowler will have to sit out once the regular season begins through their Week 6 game.
So Arizona might as well use the time he’s out during voluntary camp to see what they can do without him.
Veterans David Amerson and Tramaine Brock, plus rookie Byron Murphy, should vie to fill in at cornerback and nickelback alongside expected new No. 1 cornerback Robert Alford.
“It’s always my job as a player to be ready for whenever we get an opportunity,” Amerson said Monday. “It’s definitely tough. I know P and I know it’s tough on him. We’re here to support him.”
Most every player in the Cardinals locker room said they were in support of Peterson — and the rest of the missing Cardinals, for that matter.
The veterans each communicated to the coaching staff that they would miss at least part of voluntary OTAs, Kingsbury said, including Johnson, who last Tuesday welcomed a daughter, Londyn Elisabeth Johnson, to the world.
“I think every guy’s situation is different,” Amerson said. “I don’t really look at it as a bad thing. I think everybody’s situation is a little bit different.”
Added newcomer Marcus Gilbert, the expected starting right tackle who was acquired from the Steelers in an offseason trade: “These guys have been doing it for so long. I have no issue with that as long as they come here and they’re ready to go.”