PHOENIX — Forgive Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson if he thinks Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson has been chicken-chasing with Mickey from the “Rocky” films.
Wilson called Peterson “lightning” fast this week, stopping short of “greased lightning,” which Mickey set as a goal for Rocky.
Lightning will have to do for Peterson, who runs a 4.34 40-yard dash. He’ll be one of four elite cornerbacks on the field Thursday night when the Seahawks (5-1) play the Arizona Cardinals (3-3) at University of Phoenix Stadium in the Seahawks’ second NFC West Division game.
Seattle touched down to clear skies and an 80-degree day Wednesday. In tow was Richard Sherman, all spunk and dreadlocks, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He’d be the first to make that argument.
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Sherman’s background of being a former receiver all the way into his college career at Stanford is well-known. His tool kit is filled with precision items for measuring and positioning, the crucial implements to his success.
In addition, Sherman was drafted in the fifth round, which continues to be the coal stoking his stove of bitterness.
Peterson was an All-America cornerback at LSU. He was taken fifth overall in the 2011 draft. What he’s doing was expected of him. Two seasons into his career, he’s a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was All-Pro in 2011.
“I think he’s a much better athlete than I am,” Sherman said. “He moves better, he’s faster; he’s just different because he has so much speed so it allows him to play a little different than I play.
“I have to play straight technical football, and I think he gets to play a little looser because he can recover in a flash and get back into play. I think that’s what makes him an elite corner. He
has elite speed and jumping ability. So I think we’re similar in the way we play the ball and our ball skills and things like that. We both go up for it pretty good. Yeah, he’s a good player.”
They will look across the field at different conundrums Thursday.
Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Sherman have a mutual respect. That’s typical when it comes to Fitzgerald, who is among the most respected players in the league. When they play each other, Sherman and his voluminous banter go silent.
There are two reasons for that, Sherman said. The first is Fitzgerald is too good to spend time talking trash to. He has almost 800 catches and 11,000 yards in his 10 years in the league.
The second is, well, he’s Larry Fitzgerald.
“He’s a great player, he’s been a great player for a while, he’s been incredibly consistent over the years, and he’s been consistent through multiple quarterbacks, multiple systems,” Sherman said. “He should’ve won the Super Bowl for his team when they went, he played a heck of a game, and you have to respect a guy like that.”
Fitzgerald came to play in Sherman’s celebrity softball game over the summer. He was reciprocating the favor Sherman did for him when he showed up at Fitzgerald’s midsummer classic in the past.
The focus Sherman has on Fitzgerald is bounced back just like the softball game appearances. Sherman had three interceptions in two games against the Cardinals last year, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
“I love playing against him,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s right there at the top of the business at his position.
“He’s a guy you have to be careful with. He’s just one of the guys that can change the complexity of a game very quickly, so we have to do a good job of making sure we’re careful around him with the football.”
That has been a problem for Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer. He’s second in the league with 11 interceptions and has the highest interception percentage of his career (5.0 percent).
Differing from Sherman’s circumstance, Peterson will face a stable of Seahawks receivers that doesn’t have the pedigree of Fitzgerald. But, like Sherman, his fellow corner is a skilled one.
Tyrann Mathieu came out of LSU with less promise than Peterson. Though he was an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist in college, earning the nickname “Honey Badger” for his willingness to pry into any situation without care, Mathieu was also a rabble-rouser.
He was kicked off the team for an unspecified violation of team rules, later entered a rehabilitation clinic, and was arrested for marijuana possession after that. Still, the Cardinals took him in the third round. He’s becoming one of the best corners in the league.
Sherman has Brandon Browner with him. Browner was benched last week during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans after being beat over the top twice. He started the second half and played the rest of the game.
“We have total trust in Brandon,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “We let him relax, and then we put him right back and he did a really nice job throughout the rest of the way. It’s a learning experience and I know he has and we certainly have all the confidence in the world in him.”
There will be a lot of confidence and skill on the field Thursday among those four corners. So much so, they could end up deciding the game.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5-1) AT ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-3)
5:25 p.m., University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
TV: NFL Network, JoeTV (cable Ch. 10). Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Tied at 14. The last time the teams met, the Seahawks won, 58-0, at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 9, 2012.
What to watch: If the Seahawks can run on the stout Arizona run defense. In large part because of Russell Wilson’s scrambling success the past three weeks, the Seahawks are second in the league in rushing. The Cardinals’ rush defense is fifth in the league. Arizona has allowed just one rusher to run for more than 100 yards this season, and that was San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who ran for 101 yards last week in the 49ers’ win.
The pick: Seahawks, 24-10.
No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year
24 Marshawn Lynch, RB, 5-11, 215, seventh
He is good to go despite missing a bit of practice again this week.
50 K.J. Wright, LB, 6-4, 246, third
This will be his second consecutive week running everything at middle linebacker.
60 Max Unger, C, 6-5, 305, fifth
Pro Bowl center returned last week from triceps injury, has to go again on short week.
72 Michael Bennett, DT, 6-4, 274, fifth
Arizona QB Carson Palmer is very sackable. Bennett should get to him.
86 Zach Miller, TE, 6-5, 255, seventh
Miller is back after missing the past two weeks because of a hamstring injury.
No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year
3 Carson Palmer, QB, 6-5, 235, 11th
Has turned the ball over often this season (11 interceptions, one lost fumble).
38 Andre Ellington, RB, 5-9, 199, first
Averaging 7.0 yards per carry as backup running back.
56 Karlos Dansby, LB, 6-4, 250, 10th
In second stint with Arizona, leads the NFL with 55 solo tackles.
90 Darnell Dockett, DE, 6-4, 290, 10th
The veteran leads the Cardinals with four sacks.
93 Calais Campbell, DE, 6-8, 300, sixth
Cardinals hoping their best defensive end can play after he suffered a neck injury against 49ers.