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The Fastest Cardinals In 2016

Posted Feb 8, 2017

J.J. Nelson clocks in as the team's speediest ball-carrier, per NextGen Stats

J.J. Nelson registered the fastest speed of a Cardinals ball-carrier in 2016 with this touchdown catch against Washington.

Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim are always on the lookout for speed. Judging by the recently-released Next Gen Stats, they’ve found their fair share.

NFL.com has published the 20 fastest ball-carriers from each week of the 2016 season, and the Cardinals had nine different players in the top-20 a total of 16 times. In descending order, here were the fastest Cardinals with a ball in their hands:

16. WR Michael Floyd’s 35-yard catch vs. the 49ers

Speed: 20.03 miles per hour

While not known as a burner, Floyd put up the 14th-fastest time of the week against San Francisco in Week 10. He got behind a double-team and laid out for an impressive grab to get the Cardinals away from their own end zone.

15. TE Ifeanyi Momah forces a fumble in San Francisco

Speed: 20.07 miles per hour

Even though he’s 6-foot-7 and 248 pounds, Momah proved he can move, screaming down the field on a kickoff and popping the ball loose in Week 5. He recovered the fumble, which made him eligible for the list.

14. WR John Brown’s punt return in Minnesota

Speed: 20.54 miles per hour

Brown battled the sickle cell trait throughout the season and it took away some of his speed, but not all of it. He had a nice punt return in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, finding a crease and sprinting past defenders before getting pushed out after a 32-yard return.

13. WR Brittan Golden’s kick return against the Saints

Speed: 20.58 miles per hour

The Cardinals used a few different players on kick returns throughout the year, and Golden did a nice job when given the opportunity. When he reached full speed against New Orleans, it was enough to register as one of the fastest runs of the week.

12. RB David Johnson’s 58-yard touchdown run against the Jets

Speed: 20.62 miles per hour

This play was unforgettable. While Johnson spent much of it juking his way through defenders, he eventually turned on the burners to run away from the defense for an extraordinary score.

11. Nelson’s end-around against the Jets

Speed: 20.72 miles per hour

Nelson was used sporadically on rushing plays in 2016, and usually found success. He zoomed from one side of the field to the other on an end-around against New York, using his speed to turn the corner on a 14-yard gain.

10. Brown’s kick return against the Bills

Speed: 20.93 miles per hour

The Cardinals couldn’t rally to beat Buffalo in Week 3, but Brown gave them a sliver of hope late in the contest. He took a free kick and slithered through defenders, returning it all the way to the Buffalo 14.

9. CB Patrick Peterson’s one-handed interception in Buffalo

Speed: 20.95 miles per hour

Peterson showed off his otherworldly athleticism on this play, speeding up to an overthrown ball and nabbing it with his right hand while tapping both feet in bounds. Few players have the speed to even get in range of making that interception.

8. CB Marcus Cooper’s pick-six against the Buccaneers

Speed: 21.07 miles per hour

Cooper burst onto the scene in Week 2, picking off a pair of passes and returning one for a touchdown. He kicked it into high gear on the return, as the Buccaneers chasing him were left in Cooper’s wake.

7. Johnson’s 33-yard run in Seattle

Speed: 21.09 miles per hour

Not surprisingly, Johnson is on this list several times. On this play, he took a toss to his right, cut back to his left and dashed down the sideline for a big gain.

T5. Nelson’s end-around in Miami

Speed: 21.23 miles per hour

Nelson came on strong late in the season, including a 56-yard dash to the end zone on a handoff from Carson Palmer against the Dolphins. Players were slipping and sliding all over the wet field during the game, but Nelson kept his traction and showed off his wheels.

T5. Nelson’s long bomb in Seattle

Speed: 21.23 miles per hour

Nelson was drafted to be a deep threat, and he fit that billing to a tee in the upset of the Seahawks. Seattle was battling injuries in its usually-dominant secondary, and Nelson took advantage by getting behind the defense for an 80-yard score.

4. Johnson’s catch-and-run against Tampa Bay

Speed: 21.31 miles per hour

When Johnson caught a pass only two yards past the line of scrimmage, it looked like he would be tackled for a modest gain. Instead, he slipped away from a Buccaneers defender and took off down the sideline, registering his fastest speed of the season.

T2. Nelson’s slant and sprint in Seattle

Speed: 21.74 miles per hour

While most of his long catches come on deep throws, Nelson did some yards-after-the-catch work here. He fooled Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman with a quick slant off the line, and then weaved his way through the defense for a big gain.

T2. CB Justin Bethel’s pick-six in Los Angeles

Speed: 21.74 miles per hour

The Cardinals routed the Rams from start to finish, and Bethel put the finishing touch with an interception return for a touchdown. He battled a foot injury for much of the season, but said it was feeling better near the end, and his speed on the return was evidence of that.

1. Nelson’s late touchdown grab against Washington

Speed: 21.91 miles per hour

It’s no surprise the speedy Nelson leads this list, although it was interesting to see his 42-yard catch on top. Nelson certainly needed to hit top gear when Palmer lofted a beautiful ball to the end zone. He not only helped secure the win with the catch, but he clinched the title of fastest Cardinals ballcarrier in 2016.

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