Cardinals Positional Analysis: Wide Receiver

The Arizona Cardinals have one of the best passing attacks in the league, if not the best. Led by three 1,000-yard receivers, the Cardinals receiving corps makes Kurt Warner's job much easier. After a stellar 2008 season, the group is looking to build upon last year's success. Will anything get in its way?

Larry Fitzgerald has been among the league's best receivers the last few years, but his 2008 performance showed he just might be the NFL's best at his position. Fitzgerald finished with 96 receptions for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns. Very solid, but not incredible.

It was his work in the playoffs, however, that demonstrated his greatness. On the biggest stage against some of the best defenses Fitzgerald averaged 7.5 receptions and 136.5 receiving yards a game, and totaled seven touchdowns downs over the four games.

Fitzgerald is everything a team wants in a No. 1 receiver. He's athletic, has great hands, and runs crisp routes. Additionally, he is hungry to make the catch and routinely snatches balls that shouldn't be his. The former star from Pitt has consistently produced as a Cardinal and Arizona fans should not expect anything different in 2009.

It is a luxury for the Cardinals to have a No. 2 receiver that could be the No. 1 target on most teams in the NFL. Anquan Boldin is dominating pass catcher in his own right. Although not the fastest receiver, he can still stretch the field. Boldin is at his best after the catch, however. He wants to punish would-be tacklers, acting like a tight end but with more agility.

Boldin has not been quite as consistent as Fitzgerald during his time in Arizona, succumbing to various injuries. When in the game, however, Boldin is just as dynamic a playmaker as Fitzgerald.

Boldin's contract is currently an issue. While he has two years left on his existing deal, he feels he has outperformed that one. The Cardinals have limited cap space right now, so nothing is expected to happen anytime soon. Earlier this offseason Boldin said he wanted to be traded, but backed off on those wishes. Even though Boldin has not been satisfied with his contract situation, he is expected to attend training camp.

Behind Boldin and Fitzgerald is another 1,000 yard receiver. Third-year player Steve Breaston is hoping to repeat his success from a year ago. After not making much of an impact his rookie season, Breaston broke out in 2008 with 77 receptions for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns.

Breaston showed that teams can't just worry about Boldin and Fitzgerald. He has a much smaller frame than the two starters, but this allows for excellence breakaway speed. Breaston excels in the slot position, and now gives Arizona a three-headed monster at the receiving position. If Boldin is unavailable for any reason, Breaston has shown that he can step in and be productive.

Battling for time at the No. 4 spot will be Jerheme Urban and Early Doucett. Urban caught 34 balls last season, which isn't bad playing behind Boldin, Fizgerald, and Breaston. He is lacks true athleticism, but is a solid option as a possession receiver.

Doucet is entering his second season looking to see more action. He only had 14 receptions for 90 yards in 2008. Cardinals' coaches think Doucet has a lot of potential and hope to see notable progress during training camp and the preseason.

Several others are fighting to obtain a spot on the active roster. Veteran Sean Morey has a good chance to make it based on his superior special teams that landed him in Hawaii last year. While not an amazing talent, he is an extremely hard worker.

Another option is Michael Ray Garvin. He is an undrafted rookie free agent that is undersized (5'8"), but could find a role as a return specialist.

A final player looking for a shot is undrafted rookie free agent Lance Long. The Mississippi State product is a lot like New England's Wes Welker and might be the dark horse to make the team.


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