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Peterson prepared for NFL career by catching water balloons

Don't kick the ball to Patrick Peterson.

We're serious about this. Just don't do it. The consequences are grave.

The Rams learned this Sunday in overtime, when Peterson returned a punt 99 yards for the winning touchdown. It also made the dynamic Cardinals rookie the first player in NFL history with three punt returns for TDs in his first eight games.

Peterson's rate of success is outrageous, but at least somewhat understandable when you learn he has been trained to inflict this type of damage his whole life.

"I've been returning punts since I was 7 years old," Peterson said last week, according to The Arizona Republic. "And you know little league, they barely punt the ball. It can be fourth-and-32 and they're going to go for it. My first punt, I took back to the house. It's something I've done since I was knee high."

It was during his childhood that Peterson's father, Patrick Sr., taught him the basics of the position. The elder Peterson told his son to catch with his hands, not his body. Catch the ball like it's a water balloon, not a leather sphere.

"We did the water balloon thing," Patrick Sr. said. "I started throwing them up and throwing them at him. We used tennis balls. We used golf balls."

The golf balls were an especially effective learning device.

"If he let that golf ball hit him in the nose, it's going to hurt," Patrick Sr. said.

Suddenly, a bunch of 260-pound men sprinting toward you doesn't sound so intimidating.

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