Slump­ing Peters still has sup­port­ers

Rams corner­back has strug­gled to main­tain Pro Bowl form, but coaches back him.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BY GARY KLEIN

The sea­son be­gan on a high note for Rams corner­back Mar­cus Peters.

The Oak­land na­tive in­ter­cepted a pass against the Raiders in the opener and joy­ously re­turned it for a touch­down to cap the Rams’ vic­tory in his home­town.

Peters, ac­quired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, looked ev­ery bit the two-time Pro Bowl player who tal­lied 19 in­ter­cep­tions in his first three sea­sons, more than any NFL player dur­ing that span.

But Peters has strug­gled to re­peat that form.

In last Sun­day’s 45-35 de­feat by the New Or­leans Saints, he was beaten on sev­eral plays, in­clud­ing a 72yard touch­down late in the fourth quar­ter by re­ceiver Michael Thomas.

As he has done through­out the sea­son, Peters did not make ex­cuses.

“When things hap­pen like this and you start slow, you don’t make com­plaints,” Peters said. “You don’t sit there and talk about what could have hap­pened. You move for­ward.

“It’s all upon me of get­ting the job done. And I know I can get it done, so that’s the easy part about

it.”

It does not fig­ure to get any eas­ier for Peters on Sun­day, when the Rams play the Seat­tle Sea­hawks at the Coli­seum.

The Rams de­feated the Sea­hawks 33-31 in Week 5 at Seat­tle, but Sea­hawks quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son had his way with the Rams’ sec­ondary and ap­peared to burn Peters twice for touch­downs.

That Oct. 7 game was part of a tough stretch for Peters, who suf­fered a calf in­jury in Week 3 against the Charg­ers, came back four days later and strug­gled against the Min­nesota Vik­ings, and then played ev­ery de­fen­sive snap against Wil­son and the Sea­hawks.

Peters ap­pears re­cov­ered from the calf in­jury, but as with nearly ev­ery NFL player who suf­fers an early-sea­son in­jury, he prob­a­bly is play­ing through the is­sue with­out com­plaint.

The ab­sence of vet­eran corner­back Aqib Talib also has af­fected Peters and the Rams’ de­fense.

Talib has been side­lined for six games while re­cov­er­ing from an­kle surgery. He will be el­i­gi­ble to come off in­jured re­serve in time for the Rams’ Week 13 game at Detroit.

In the mean­time, much of the onus is on Peters.

“When you per­form in this league as much as I did, and you come in and you’re one of th­ese play­ers who makes those plays, and you’re used to mak­ing those plays, and those plays are not com­ing, it kind of frus­trates you,” Peters said. “It’s just all about find­ing your groove and find­ing where you fit in through ev­ery­thing and you just go make your plays when they come.”

Against the Saints, the Rams could not stop quar­ter­back Drew Brees from pass­ing for four touch­downs.

The last one, to Thomas, ap­peared to catch Peters flat-footed.

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips said he was re­spon­si­ble: “That’s on me,” he said, “not Peters.

“Any time that it’s third and seven, it’s the end of the game and you’ve got one-onone with no help with their best player, then that’s on the coaches.”

Said Peters: “I’m just go­ing to put it on me re­gard­less, be­cause re­gard­less of what coach called we got to go out there and make plays. And I didn’t ex­e­cute.”

When Peters pro­cesses de­fen­sive calls, sets up in a timely man­ner and plays with proper tech­nique, “you can see there’s some great ex­am­ples of be­ing on the screws, look­ing like an elite-type player,” coach Sean McVay said.

Phillips and McVay ac­knowl­edged, how­ever, that Peters needs to play bet­ter.

“With a good player and a pro­duc­tive player that’s had as much suc­cess as he has had and the con­fi­dence we have in him, we trust that he’ll im­prove,” McVay said.

On Sun­day, Peters must put be­hind the game against the Saints.

Thomas caught 12 passes for a team-record 211 yards. Sev­eral re­cep­tions were with Peters in cov­er­age.

Af­ter the game, Saints coach Sean Pay­ton said his team got the matchup it wanted for the fi­nal touch­down.

On Thurs­day, when asked about Pay­ton’s com­ments, Peters said he en­cour­aged the coach to “keep talkin’ ” and that the Rams would see the Saints “soon,” pre­sum­ably in the NFC play­offs.

“And then we go­ing to have a good lit­tle, nice lit­tle bowl of gumbo to­gether,” Peters said.

Hall of Famer Ron­nie Lott, who played the first five of his 14 NFL sea­sons at corner­back, praised Peters’ ta­lent and said he would bounce back.

“Ev­ery cor­ner has a day when things go wrong — it’s like try­ing to stop Kobe [Bryant] on a hot night,” Lott said. “You can’t.

“You come back and you work on the ba­sics.”

That’s what Peters said he in­tended to do.

“Next play,” he said of his at­ti­tude about mov­ing on from good and bad out­comes. “Next week.”

Robert Gau­thier L.A. Times

MAR­CUS PETERS has been burned by elite quar­ter­backs re­cently.

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