2013 Roster in Review: Defensive backs

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
7:01
PM ET
Cornerback starters: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers

Backup: Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason

Under contract in 2014: Peterson and Powers

Cash committed in ‘13: $8.1 million

Cap committed in ‘13: $9.17 million

Peterson
Peterson
Recap: Consistency was key at cornerback for the Cardinals in 2013. Patrick Peterson, who has continued to improve every year, was rewarded for his work with a third-straight trip to the Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro nod as a cornerback. While his numbers weren't Peterson-esque -- 42 tackles, 13 passes defensed, 3 interceptions -- he has solidified his reputation as a shutdown cornerback. Peterson regularly covered the opponents’ top receiver and regularly shut them down. He had 17 tackles on the left side of the field and 22 on the right. When he wasn’t on the field -- which wasn’t often -- opposing quarterbacks were 3-for-4 for three touchdowns. With Peterson on the field, opposing quarterbacks completed 58.6 percent of their passes and threw 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Throughout the season, quarterbacks had a tendency to stay away from Peterson, a testament to his ability. Across from Peterson, Powers struggled at times, namely because of his size and strength. He led the team with nine missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, but came on in the final half of the season, which included an interception against Houston. The backups -- Arenas and Cason -- didn’t see much time, but Cason found a role in the final few games as the Cardinals’ nickel back when rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu went down. Cason had the game-winning interception at Tennessee in Week 15.

Safety starters: Yeremiah Bell, Rashad Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu

Backup: Tony Jefferson, Curtis Taylor

Under contract in 2014:, Johnson, Mathieu, Jefferson and Taylor

Cash committed in ‘13: $3.8 million

Cap committed in ‘13: $2.7 million

Mathieu
Recap: Arizona’s secondary improved as Mathieu gained experience. The Honey Badger started seeing regular playing time in Week 4, the game after Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger against New Orleans. From then, Mathieu started the next nine of 10 games before getting hurt, giving Arizona a versatile secondary. Mathieu could play safety, cornerback or nickel back, giving the Cardinals opportunities to change defenses on the fly without substituting. Johnson began filling in when healthy and had a solid season. Bell showed that at 35 -- he just turned 36 on Monday -- he still had what it takes to play safety at a high level. The biggest knock against Bell, who had 69 tackles, two interceptions and a sack, was that he wasn’t fast enough to keep up with younger, quicker receivers or tight ends. But he was certainly strong enough. The Cardinals are in good shape going forward with Jefferson entering his second season. He’s athletic and fast enough to cover ground, but his size might be his biggest hurdle, especially since the Cardinals need a regular safety to defend tight ends.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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