Offseason gains and losses: Special Teams

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
7:45
PM ET
The only significant piece to the Arizona Cardinals' special teams that was lost during the offseason was Javier Arenas, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

As Arizona’s primary kick returner, Arenas struggled for the most part throughout the season, much to the dismay of head coach Bruce Arians. Arenas found trouble deciding which kicks to bring out of the end zone instead of downing them for a fair catch. He returned 23 kicks for 493 yards, but his season was marred by decisions that cost Arizona field position.

A perfect example can be found in Week 1 of last season when Arenas decided to bring out two kicks that were caught deep in the end zone. Arenas caught the first six yards deep in Arizona’s end zone and returned it 14 yards to the 8. He fielded the second eight yards deep and returned it 18 yards to the 10. In both cases, the Cardinals could have started at the 20 had Arenas just taken a knee.

To fill a much-needed void, the Cardinals signed and drafted a few potential replacements for Arenas. The primary choice to be Arizona’s new kick returner is Ted Ginn, who the Cardinals signed during free agency. He has earned his NFL stripes as a return man, having at least 25 returns in six of his seven seasons. Twice he had more than 1,200 return yards in a season and he has surpassed 6,000 return yards for his career. The Cardinals drafted John Brown, who returned 81 kicks for 2,118 yards and three touchdowns in college. Walt Powell, drafted in the sixth round this year, returned kicks his last two seasons at Murray State and could also be used on occasion. Another addition who could be used at kick returner is Antonio Cromartie, who has been used sparingly in the role during the past few years but peaked in 2011 with 417 yards.

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Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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