Cardinals 2008 Breakout Stars: Offense

While the Cardinals marquee players usually steal the headlines, this year's potential breakout stars could determine the fate of Arizona's 2008 campaign. With many players awaiting expanded roles this season, new faces are certain to emerge. Brad Wilbricht outlines which players are on the brink of stardom in this AZRedReport.com exclusive.

Wide Receiver: Steve Breaston

While Breaston is already known for his terrific return skills, he's been making consistent progress as a receiver. Breaston is in contention for the Cardinals third wide receiver spot, and is currently battling rookie Early Doucet. While both players exhibit the ability to excel as a slot receiver, Breaston should benefit from having one year of NFL experience under his belt. He gained valuable playing time last season on kick returns and will look to translate his success on special teams to the Cardinals offense. Breaston caught only 8 passes for 92 yards last season, but has demonstrated improved play during mini camp and OTA's. Breaston has previously been productive at wide receiver, particularly during his senior season at Michigan. Along with returning kicks for the Wolverines, he reeled in 58 passes for 670 yards.

Fullback: Tim Castille

Although Terrelle Smith has been serviceable since arriving in Arizona, Castille supplies the Cardinals offense with a much broader skill-set. Castille is a triple threat that displays the ability to block, catch and run out of the backfield. Smith, who started all 16 games last season, is a one-dimensional blocking specialist. He carried the ball only one time last season for a total of three yards. Furthermore, he caught only seven passes for 59 yards. Castille is an adequate blocker, and boasts upgraded hands and running skills. During his college career at Alabama, Castille frequently lined-up at running back. He shows excellent balance and versatility when carrying the ball. However, Castille's greatest contributions could come in the passing game. He can be utilized on screen passes and will provide QB Matt Leinart with an additional check-down target.

Tight End: Ben Patrick

Patrick saw limited action last season, but made the most of his time on the playing field. Two of his seven catches resulted in touchdowns, and occurred during critical stages of the game. Patrick is an extremely versatile player, demonstrating the ability to line-up in multiple formations. During his college career at Duke and Delaware, Patrick spent time at tight end, fullback, and the H-back position. He could be utilized in a similar fashion as Indianapolis Colts TE Dallas Clark. With Leonard Pope recovering from an ankle injury, Patrick has been given additional reps during mini camp and OTA's. He's been praised by the Cardinals coaching staff and has positioned himself for additional playing time in 2008.

Offensive Line: Elton Brown

Since entering the NFL in 2005, Brown has always featured the ability and size to thrive at the professional level. However, injuries and mental mistakes have prevented Brown from realizing his potential. With a fresh start to the 2008 season, and an additional year under renowned offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Brown should experience much improved play this year. Grimm is an outstanding teacher and can supply Brown with massive amounts of first-hand experience along the offensive line. Although Brown has played in only 18 games during his tenure in Arizona, he will be heavily depended on this season. If he can avoid injuries, look for Brown to challenge Deuce Lutui for the starting position at right guard.


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