GLENDALE (AP) – Patrick Peterson wrapped up what he called “by far” his best NFL training camp on Thursday.
And that’s saying something since the Arizona Cardinals cornerback was an All-Pro selection three times and a Pro Bowl player in each of his previous six professional seasons.
His motivation for continuing to work hard on his craft is simple, and a bid audacious. He wants to be the best of all time.
"First of all, that's why I play the game," Peterson said. "I play the game to not only be remembered but to be the best to play at my position. Obviously I know the NFL has a long history of great players, great defensive backs. One of them actually is my idol, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, the list goes on. That's why I play the game, chasing those guys."
Coach Bruce Arians agrees with Peterson's assessment of how great his camp was.
"Just his consistency at being great," Arians said. "It's one thing to come out and just be good every day, but he practiced harder and better than I've ever seen him."
Earlier in camp, Peterson talked about his ultimate personal goal, a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That is what keeps driving him to improve no matter how good he is already.
"If you want to be remembered and if you want to be somewhere that you can be forever, which is Canton, those are things that I can control," he said, "and I want to make sure I continue to do that to continue building up that resume."
The six years in the NFL have flown by for him.
"Honestly it don't even feel like I'm in year seven," he said. "It still feels like I'm in year four and three. That's how great I feel right now, knock on wood. I feel extremely healthy. I'm lighter than I've ever been. I'm at 201 (pounds) right now. As I get older, I want to make sure that I keep that weight down."
Someday he will feel the effects of age.
"I want to make sure I'm more in tune with my body because once you get older your body don't react to certain things like it used to," he said. "So I have to make sure I stay on top of those things so I can play as long as I want."
Those days seem a long way off. After all, he's only 27.
"I'm still not at my peak yet," Peterson said. "I'm just getting there."
He knows he's unlikely to accumulate huge interception numbers, simply because quarterbacks rarely choose to throw in his direction. His measurement of success is shutting down the best receiver of every opposing team.
"It will be great for me to get some interceptions," Peterson said. "It will be great for me to get some touchdowns. But when you don't get many opportunities it's hard to do that. At the end of the day, I'm still guarding No. 1 receivers. I'm still doing everything to put myself in position, but if I'm not getting the opportunity, what more can I do."
Arians said it was a good camp overall, more physical than the others he's had at Arizona and with fewer injuries.
The final two preseason games are on the road.
Starters should get about 30 plays in Saturday's game at Atlanta, when the Cardinals will help the Falcons open their new stadium.
Next week the practices will shift across Phoenix to the team's practice facility in Tempe, where the workouts will be in the heat outdoors because there are too many players to allow for efficient use of the team's practice bubble. Then there is one more preseason game at Denver, with the starters to play very little if at all.
Arizona's first two regular-season games are on the road.
The Cardinals won't be playing inside University of Phoenix Stadium, site of their training camp, until Sept. 25, when they face the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night in Arizona's home opener.