Patrick Peterson's return adds to Cardinals' momentum

Schefter: Cardinals were prepared for Peterson suspension (1:21)

Adam Schefter says that Arizona added other cornerbacks during the offseason with the knowledge that a Patrick Peterson suspension was coming down the pipeline. (1:21)

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals are ready to welcome back cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Peterson, who was suspended for the first six games of the season after violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, returned to the team Monday and will make his 2019 debut at the New York Giants.

"I feel good about getting good players back," said coordinator Vance Joseph, whose defense is the only one in the NFL without an interception this season. "So, I'm hoping he's excited to come back and ready to play well."

Peterson should be able to hit the ground running. The Cardinals trainers and strength coaches devised a plan to reintegrate Peterson that should ensure he's physically ready to start practicing and playing.

"We know he's been working very hard and will be ready physically," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We've just got to get him caught up on some things. He's a unique talent so we're going to put him back in and get him rolling as quickly as possible."

Peterson's return comes at a good time for the Cardinals, who have won their last two games. His teammates say having him back just helps build on the momentum.

"Pat coming back, that's just going to add a lot of fuel to the fire," free safety Budda Baker said. "So, I'm very excited."

"I miss him," said linebacker Chandler Jones said. "I miss him as a player. I mean he's my friend. He's a friend of mine. I mean I come to work, I don't see him. ... I'm excited for him for sure."

Peterson will speak to the media later this week, but wasn't hiding his excitement about returning to work in an Instagram post on Monday.

Peterson, who has reached the Pro Bowl eight times, was targeted a career-low 52 times in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus, or just 3.25 times per game. He allowed 30 yards per game and .63 yards per coverage snap, which was the lowest in the NFL, according to PFF.

While teams' top receivers haven't exactly burned the Cardinals without Peterson, they've made their presence felt. The Cardinals have allowed three 100-yard receivers through six games, one more than at this point in 2018.

Having Peterson on the field allows Joseph to assign Peterson the offense's top receiver -- and then essentially forget about Peterson.

"He's a lockdown corner," Joseph said. "When you have a guy like Patrick, you don't have to worry about one side of the field. If they decide to attack Patrick, shame on him. But you can obviously make them attack Patrick by helping other corners."

Baker added he'll start to shy toward the opposite hash mark from where Peterson is, knowing quarterbacks tend to stay away from Peterson.

"It gives you some confidence as a player," Jones said. "Pat P will cut down the whole field but I mean I feel like everyone has to focus on doing their job. But having Patrick on our team, he's not just a defensive player. He plays special teams, returns punts, he blocks field goals. So, just not even kind of shutting down the field, he does a lot just on the whole football team."

Peterson's return may help the Cardinals address a glaring weakness this season: slowing down tight ends. Arizona has allowed tight ends to catch 599 yards this season, the most in the NFL by 102. With Peterson back, the Cardinals can slide either rookie corner Byron Murphy or veteran corner Tramaine Brock to the starting job opposite of Peterson and then have the other one help defend tight ends.

"That's a solution we have to come up with," Kingsbury said. "We'll work through that this week but being able to have Pat single up somebody and then maybe move coverage to one of those tight ends or help double is definitely an option there."