Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson has been in the NFL for over a decade, and in all of that time, he has never been a part of a team with a pass-rushing combination quite like Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter.
Both men are two-time Pro Bowlers with the rare ability to wreck an entire offensive game-plan. That’s something the Vikings didn’t have last season. But more importantly, all of those Arizona Cardinals teams Peterson played for didn’t have it, either.
As a defensive back, the legendary eight-time Pro Bowler has a front row seat to something he believes is on the verge of being “special.”
“That’s going to be special man because I’ve never had the privilege to have two dynamic pass rushers coming off both edges,” said Peterson on All Things Covered. “Going through those six practices now, although we don’t have any pads on right now, so guys are getting their first two-step bursts and kind of shutting it down there, but just seeing how fast that pocket collapse, when we do have those team periods, it’s magical to watch.
“I’m happy to finally have an opportunity to experience some dogs that can really put some heat on a quarterback.”
Hunter amassed 14.5 sacks in back-to-back years the last time he was fully healthy for an entire season. Meanwhile, before an injury kept him out in 2021, Smith was coming off a 12.5-sack season in 2020.
Those two defensive monsters being up front will set the tone for the entire defense. It was a defense that was getting pushed around and bullied by nearly everyone they faced last season.
That obviously won’t be the case in 2022 with the Vikings now having two of the league’s biggest defensive bullies in the lineup.
Here’s to hoping the rest of the NFL is hungry. If Smith and Hunter can both stay healthy next season, they’re going to be handing out some serious sack lunches to opposing quarterbacks.
Highlights and notes from Week 2 Vikings OTAs