TEMPE, Ariz. — Speed.
It’s something the Arizona Cardinals have wanted. It’s something the Arizona Cardinals believe they now have, especially after the addition of receivers John Brown and Ted Ginn, Jr.
Last season, as a team, the Cardinals had 52 plays of 20 or more yards, 49 of which came in the air. Michael Floyd led the team with 17, and Larry Fitzgerald followed him with 11. While both effective, neither wideout is considered to be a “burner.”
Enter Ginn, who runs the 40-yard dash in about 4.30 seconds and Brown, a third-round pick who was clocked at 4.34 seconds in the same drill.
“Just pure speed,” quarterback Carson Palmer said of the duo. “That’s something that this offense must have to be successful. Pretty much every offense must have some speed. But both those guys are absolute burners.
“You look at some of the things Ted can do once he puts his foot in the ground and hits full speed and full stride. And John, it doesn’t take John long; it takes him maybe two steps to be running 4.30. They give us a huge, dramatic change from what we were last year going into this year.”
Ginn, who played for the Carolina Panthers last year, came to Arizona as a free agent. He has caught 197 passes for 2,604 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career. Brown was taken with the 91st pick in the draft out of Pittsburg State.
Both have been impressive up to this point, with Ginn proving to be more than a special teams player and Brown turning heads on what seems like a daily basis.
In fact, head coach Bruce Arians said that Wednesday’s practice was the first time the rookie looked like, well, a rookie.
“He dropped a ball, the first one he dropped, and he fell down, wide open,” the coach said. “So he got to be a rookie. I think he’s reading his press clippings.”
Arians was joking, of course, but there’s no hiding the fact that he believes the offense finally has the tools to be as effective as he wants. In every one of his stops before this one, Arians always had a receiver who could stretch the field, like Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh and T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis.
“Any time you can hit a home run in one play, it’s easy,” the coach said. “The threat of those guys being out there is every play that you can hit one and what they do to the defense to open up everyone else.
“You don’t have to throw it long. When you hit a fast guy going across the field it’s easy for him to turn it up and go the distance.”
That’s a threat the team really didn’t find last season, though not for a lack of trying. Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden each got a chance, with Golden catching a 63-yard pass and Williams a 51-yarder. Unfortunately both players suffered injuries before they could really get going, forcing the team to explore other options. Williams has since been moved to defensive back while Golden is fighting to make the team.
It’s a sign of just how much the team has changed in just one offseason.
“That speed element is something we feel like we’ve added a lot,” Arians said. “Andre Ellington being the feature back we feel adds a lot of speed on the field. Whoever comes out of the tight end room has got some speed. I really like where we’re at offensively.”