Breaston rounds out Cards' triple threat

Dave Pollard, SLAM!Sports

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

TAMPA, Fla. – Steve Breaston might be the Arizona Cardinals’ secret weapon.

Larry Fitzgerald, the best receiver in the NFL right now, and Anquan Boldin have deservedly received all the attention – from the media and opposition defences alike – during Arizona’s stunning run to Super Bowl XLIII.

But Breaston, the Cards’ number three receiver and top kick and punt returner, could play more than a bit role against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday evening at Ramond James Stadium.

“Right now, he’s the best we’re going to play,” Steelers special teams coach Bob Ligashesky said. “We will prepare for him as if he is one of the best returners in the game. Steve can get to a lot of balls, he has great range. He’s a sure-handed catch guy and he has the ability and elusiveness to make you miss and go the distance.”

Breaston, a second-year receiver out of Michigan, didn’t run a kick back for a touchdown this season but he racked up 904 combined return yards. He’s hoping to tack on a few more by breaking a big one against the Steelers.

“Yeah, I look at that opportunity and I know they’re looking at the same thing,” Breaston said. “Field position is very big, especially in championship games. You can put your offense in a good position at the start of a drive. Field position is very key in games like this.”

When it comes to catching Kurt Warner’s passes, Fitzgerald and Boldin are clearly the first two targets.

Fitzgerald developed into possibly the game’s most dominant receiver after catching 96 passes for 1,431 yards in the regular season and 23 more for an NFL post-season record 419 yards during the march to the Super Bowl. Boldin had 89 receptions for 1,038 yards despite missing four games, two with facial injuries and the other due to a shoulder problem.

But Breaston is a pretty darn good third option for Warner. In what was an incredible breakout season, he had 77 catches for 1,006 yards after hauling in eight passes for 92 yards as a rookie in 2007.

“Steve has come a long way,” Boldon said. “When he first got drafted, I think they brought him in as a return guy. I think his dreams and aspirations were a lot bigger than that. He wanted to be a great receiver in this league and he’s watched some of the guys on this team. How they work, how they prepare.

“He asked for a lot of advice and he was given it. He took it and ran with it.”

The emergence of Breaston as a legitimate threat – he had nine receptions twice and broke the 100-yard mark three times – has given the Cardinals as explosive a trio of receivers as you’ll find in the league.

Only four other times in NFL history has one team had three receivers go over 1,000 yards receiving, the latest being the Indianapolis Colts trio of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley in 2004.

“It’s been fun,” Breaston said. “It’s so much attention that Anquan and Larry draws. It helps me out a lot but I do the same for them also. Everybody complements each other. The biggest thing is I’ve got to be ready whenever opportunities come my way.

“I think I’ve gained that trust in Kurt through the whole year and I just want to continue to make plays.”

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