TEMPE, Ariz. — They say you can’t teach speed.
You may be able to coach up a player to better utilize whatever speed he possesses, but someone who is not particularly fast will never become particularly fast.
Ted Ginn, Jr. does not have that problem, and because of that the Arizona Cardinals have the deep threat they’ve been looking for.
The team signed the former Ohio State star to a three-year, $9.75 million contract Thursday. Once servicing the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphin to complement a receiver group that already includes Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald and rising star Michael Floyd.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could help the team,” Ginn said of why he chose the Cardinals. “And coming to the Cardinals was a big deal. They needed a fast guy, which I can bring to them.”
That he can.
Seven years ago while preparing for the NFL Draft, Ginn was clocked in the 4.37-second range in the 40-yard dash. The 5-foot-11 receiver was asked Thursday how fast he’d run today, and he said, with a smile, “I’m probably about 4.38, you know, without working.”
Of course, Ginn added he hadn’t run the 40 in a while, so that is just the time he’s giving. But whether or not he is truly still that fast or even just a smidgen slower, in him, the Cardinals added a player that would appear to be perfect for coach Bruce Arians’ offense.
“Just going back to all the guys that he had and being up there in Pittsburgh and seeing what he did to my Browns for years, it’s just a great fit for me,” Ginn said. “Just coming in and just knowing Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes and different guys like that; it was just a good fit.”
With Fitzgerald and Floyd occupying the receiver spots out wide, Ginn figures to do most of his work out of the slot. Though he has little experience in that role, he said he’d play wherever the coaches want him to.
But slot or not, Ginn will be expected to take the top off of opposing defenses and open up things for the rest of the offense.
Last season, the Cardinals used untested Brittan Golden and Teddy Williams in the role Ginn figures to have, with the two combining for five catches and 187 yards. In Carolina, Ginn caught 36 passes for 556 yards and five scores.
Always an adept kick returner, Ginn admitted he was able to prove to teams that he was useful in other areas besides special teams, though he’d be happy to help the Cardinals out there, too.
“My season last year brought me a rebirth type of season to show that I’m still a receiver and I can still get it done,” he said. “That’s what made me be able to come out to the Arizona Cardinals, having that great year.”
But while his 2013 may have led to an increased amount of interest in his services, Ginn admitted he never really expected to leave the Panthers. Though he’s excited to join a Cardinals team that has a “fiery defense” and, in his opinion, is just a piece or two away from being an even better offensive team, that it even got to this point is a bit of a shock.
“I was very surprised, but it’s a game,” he said. “They’ve got to do what’s best for them and I have to do what’s best for me, and becoming an Arizona Cardinal is what’s best for me.”