Peterson prepared for the Shockey challenge
January 04, 2003
By Craig Massei
49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson talks about his matchup with New York Giants' Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey, of which Niners defensive coordinator Jim Mora says, "It's going to be one of the great matchups of the year to watch."
Q: Do you thrive on matchups like the one with Jeremy Shockey this week?
Peterson: I think our whole team thrives on a situation like that, like if Ahmed Plummer was matched up with Keyshawn Johnson, I think he would step up his level of play. That's just the way the character of our team is, when you play someone good, you raise your level up and try to play to a different standard and make sure your ball club is well-prepared to make big plays.
Q: How has Shockey developed since the season opener?
Peterson: He's definitely not a rookie anymore. He's more of a veteran now. That rookie stage is definitely over with. They go to him a lot now. He had almost 1,000 yards as a tight end, which is incredible. He's very physical. He plays like he's on defense and you don't get that a lot from an offensive player. He's very gifted, very talented and we're going to do our best to try and slow him down.
Q: What's the best way to play him?
Peterson: That has to do with jamming him up for the first five yards, make sure you beat him up a little bit so you can get the quarterback to look to another receiver and frustrate him when he can't get the ball over the top. I think my teammates give me a lot of respect out there. They have a lot of confidence in me. I just want to go out there and do my job to the best of my ability as far as technique, putting my hands on him and come with the same emotion that Shockey gives and come back with my own emotion to fuel my defense. It'll be a good game. It's going to be something to write about. The media will get a good kick out of it. It'll be nice for the fans and the players.
Q: How does Shockey compare to Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez?
Peterson: They're similar athletes who present a big mismatch to any corner, or safety. They're bigger and faster than a typical tight end who's 280 who runs a 4.9 or something. With (Shockey), I think he's a little more physical than Tony Gonzalez. Tony knows how to play the game better, more veteran-like, he has more big play experience. With Shockey, he's still developing, but he has great upside.
Q: How do you deal with an emotional player like Shockey?
Peterson: I think he was having fun out there going against (Eagles corner Troy) Vincent. He knows his potential as a Pro Bowler and he was more or less saying 'I caught this one on you and you better come with it next time.' It's part of the game and I'm pretty sure Vincent probably stepped up the next time and shut him down. I think he just plays with a lot of emotion and just goes out there playing for fun. He's a young guy with nothing to lose, got a cocky sort of attitude - kind of a 'me against the world' sort of. He's just going out there and having fun, I'm going to do the same thing and if talks to me, I'll talk back. It won't be a big issue. I won't be throwing blows obviously. It'll just make it more competitive of a game.
Q: Do players like having a teammate like a Shockey, or a Jeremy Newberry, or a Terrell Owens, who aren't afraid to speak out?
Peterson: You always have to have players like that. You have to have players who are kind of stingy, always want the ball and demand respect out there. You need someone with a lot of arrogance out there. I think that carries the team a little bit too. If you feel like you're a prime-time player thinking 'they can't stop me' and 'give me the ball,' then your team is going to thrive off that. My job coming up this week is to slow down Shockey, make sure if he makes a play, it's not that big. I think that's the key ingredient to winning.
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