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Big Ben: Marcus Peters a 'phenomenal talent'

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Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters is on the Pittsburgh Steelers' radar after capturing AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Wednesday.

The league's most dangerous cover man, Peters intercepted a pair of passes for the second consecutive week while batting down six more throws over that span.

"He catches every ball that is thrown his way," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger raved Wednesday, via the Kansas City Star. "What a phenomenal player.

"Offensive guys always make fun of defensive players -- they play defense because they can't catch. Well, he can catch everything. It hits him in the hands, he catches it. It bounces in the air, he catches it. What a tremendous talent."

Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin each attributed Peters' success to his ball awareness and uncanny instincts for reading and jumping routes.

"He's a calculated risk-taker, the type of calculated risk-taker that's required to be great at that position," Tomlin explained. "... He's checking off all the boxes, and really, he needs no endorsement from me -- his numbers speak for themselves. I think he's got 12 interceptions in 19 games. That's incredible."

Despite the gaudy numbers, there's a perception that Peters surrenders too many big plays -- a perception colored in large part by the seven touchdowns allowed in the first half of his rookie season.

Since Week 10 of last season, however, Peters has been not just a premier playmaker but also a shutdown corner, ranking in the top-five in lowest completion percentage and passer rating on throws in his coverage.

If Peters is so hard to beat, why is he still targeted so heavily? Why aren't quarterbacks avoiding his side of the field?

"It's easier said than done," Roethlisberger said. "If you have guy that just eliminates a side of the field as an offense, you're kind of stuck. So you have to just pick and choose your battles."

Roethlisberger added that quarterbacks always have to keep tabs on top cornerbacks such as Peters, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman and Josh Norman, but "you also have to have faith and trust in yourself and your receiver."

Whereas Cardinals All Pro Peterson "travels" with opposing No. 1 receivers, Peters plays in a zone-structured defense that allows him to peak into the backfield and anticipate a receiver's route by reading the quarterback's tendencies.

After tossing a career-high six interceptions in last week's loss, Ryan Fitzpatrick noted that the Chiefs defensive backs do a great job of keeping their eyes on the quarterback.

Peters will track Roethlisberger with one eye on Sunday. What inquiring football minds want to know, though, is whether the Chiefs' star cornerback will also track the Steelers' superstar receiver.

Since he entered the league last season, Peters leads all players in interceptions (12) and passes defensed (45), per NFL.com's statistics. In fact, he has broken up more passes in three games this season than the entire defenses of the Colts, Jets and Jaguars.

Over that same time period, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receptions (160) and receiving yards (2,139).

Recent trends suggest their encounters will be limited on Sunday. Peters patrols the left side of the field while Brown is primary a right-side wideout.

Football fans have been brainwashed by the incessant Odell Beckham-Josh Norman hype to salivate over marquee cornerback-receiver matchups. Peters and Brown are superlative enough to appreciate on their own merits.

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