With Breaston, Cardinals don't miss Johnson

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals let Bryant Johnson leave in free agency because they knew Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin would be fine without an established third receiver.

They also hoped Steve Breaston would emerge as a solid No. 3 receiver for the Cardinals. Breaston has outperformed all reasonable expectations. He has outperformed Johnson, who has struggled with injuries since joining the 49ers.

Breaston has a few things on his side.

  • Kurt Warner is playing at a high level.

  • The Cardinals are throwing a high percentage of the time.

  • Boldin's injury thrust Breaston into a more prominent role.

Breaston can be a difficult matchup in part because he isn't a refined receiver. The mentality that served Breaston well on special teams is working to his advantage as a receiver. He appears fearless in traffic and after the catch. He can also be a little wild and unpredictable in how he runs, making it tougher for defensive backs to get a read on him. Sometimes you'll see a defensive back freeze trying to figure out which way Breaston is going to turn.