Marcus Peters plays havoc, remains a lightning rod

Marcus Peters is somebody fans love to hate. When the defense falters, he has often been involved either by committing an unfortunate penalty or getting burned on a deep pass.

After the Washington Redskins scored their only two touchdowns on passes to receivers he was covering in a Week 4 win, Peters described his game as “hella weak.”

In the Week 11 loss to the Giants, he committed pass interference in the end zone, leading to the game’s only touchdown.

Peters has also been a lightning rod for controversy.

He was dismissed from the University of Washington team his senior year for “immature decisions.”

“I just learn from my mistakes,” Peters said. “I made some immature decisions at the University of Washington and it hurt me.  So, I’ve just got to learn from my mistakes and grow from it.”

He argues with teammates and yells at coaches.

After Peters was seen yelling at defensive coordinator Bob Sutton during the Redskins game, Andy Reid defended his emotional cornerback.

“It’s an emotional game and we know he’s an emotional player,” Reid said. “It’s not like it’s a secret. Two minutes later he’s OK. That’s how he rolls. Bob knows it. Nobody loves the game more than that guy loves the game, so we all understand that, too.  We’re all wired a little different.”

Said Sutton, “Marcus is an intense competitor. That’s one of the reasons he’s played so well in the National Football League. I don’t think you ever want to take that away from him. You don’t want to break the spirit that he has.”

He has cursed at fans and officials and drawn unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting and punting the ball when plays or calls haven’t gone his way.

And then there’s the anthem.

Last year, Marcus Peters raised a fist during the national anthem as his own way of protesting.  This year he’s sitting out the anthem.

Some irate fans say he’s being disrespectful.

Marcus Peters says it’s a show of unity with Colin Kaepernick’s view.

“I’m just stating that I’m black and I love being black,” Peters said. “I’m supporting Colin and what he’s doing as far as raising awareness with the justice system. I didn’t mean anything by it. I locked arms with my teammates. I talked with coach (Andy Reid) and coach said it was OK if I wanted to express my thoughts.”

While he might want to downplay it, Peters seems to revel in being a disruptor.

Primarily, he hopes to disrupt opposing offenses, and he’s not shy about enjoying it.

In Week 9 last year against defending NFC champion Carolina, Marcus Peters stripped the ball from a Panthers receiver with 20 seconds left, setting up a game-winning field goal.

“I took it from him,” he said. “It’s simple. You know how you go to the store and you want something and your mama tells you ‘you can’t have it?’ I should’ve caught the first pick. I stayed patient. They caught the first touchdown on us.  Missed opportunity.  I should’ve made a play on that ball, too. I took the ball from him. That’s all it was. That’s my mindset every time. I want the ball back. I want to give the ball back to Alex (Smith), (Travis) Kelce, Tyreek (Hill) and all those guys.”

The ability to rebound has been an important aspect for Peters.

At the end of that “weak” game against the Redskins, Peters also forced a fumble which was returned for a touchdown by Justin Houston to end the game.

After his dismissal from the Huskies, his first-round status pick was in question, so he made an unusual number of visits to NFL teams prior to the draft, hoping to convince them of his character.

The Chiefs took Marcus Peters 18th overall in 2015.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Reid said.  “He has to keep his emotions intact, and I think he’ll do that. He’s not a problem off the field; that’s not what he is. He’s not a problem in your locker room; that’s not what he is. He’s smart. It’s just those competitive juices. You have to know how to control those.”

He recorded an interception on his very first play from scrimmage, picking off a pass against the Texans in Week 1; two plays later, the Chiefs scored to take a 7-0 lead.

He led the NFL in interceptions (8), defensive touchdowns (2) and with 280 yards in interception returns, ranking ninth all time in NFL history, as a rookie.

His 26 passes defended as a rookie set a Chiefs record as he earned honors as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and made his first All-Pro team.

In 2016 he was again an All-Pro when he came away with six interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Through 10 games this year, Marcus Peters has three picks and a fumble return for a touchdown which opened the scoring during a Week 8 win against the Broncos.

Overall, his numbers have been solid, and he continues to make big plays even when matched up with some of the game’s best receivers.

With the last full month of the season offering the AFC West-leading Chiefs a chance at their third-consecutive post-season, the team will continue to rely on Peters being a disruptive force against opposing offenses.

“He’s a highly competitive guy,” Sutton said. “He loves to play. He loves challenges. He doesn’t do everything right.”

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Article by Marc Bowman

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