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Counting On The Third

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Wide receiver Steve Breaston makes one of his four catches this season as the Cardinals' No. 3 wideout behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

VIENNA, Va. – All through training camp, the Cardinals' third receiver job was described by coach Ken Whisenhunt as being fluid and likely by committee.

Through three games, it has been less so in reality, with Steve Breaston getting the vast majority of the time over Jerheme Urban.

Playing time, however, isn't as crucial as the production the Cardinals need from this position-as-work-in-progress behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

"We're in a great situation with Larry and Q with the ability to throw it up to those guys," Urban said. "But that doesn't diminish the number three or number four role because eventually teams are going to try and take those guys away and make someone else beat them."

Breaston had four catches in the first two games, but had a miscommunication with quarterback Kurt Warner against the Redskins on one play that could have turned into a big gain. Later, Breaston couldn't quite make a play on a deep pass that turned into Warner's first interception of the season – and turned into Washington's winning points.

According to NFL statistics, Breaston has had 12 passes thrown his way, Urban just one (and no receptions).

"I didn't realize they only had four catches," Warner said. "I think we're going to need more catches out of them as the season goes along to be as successful as we want to be."

A year ago, Breaston proved he could be a return man. But he was so raw he made the Cardinals wonder if he could develop into a NFL-level receiver.

Steady work through the offseason and Breaston's ability to add some muscle gave Breaston the edge over Urban. But it hasn't made Breaston a sure thing.

"I just want to be a reliable receiver out there," Breaston said. "I want to be an option for Kurt just like Ben Patrick is at tight end. When he can't go to Fitz and he can't go to Q, I want to be that player who he can look backside to and make the key play."

Breaston said his bumpy game against Washington was simply an off day. While he was down afterward about his role in the interception, he noted it just stuck with him because it came late in the game.

Had it happened earlier, Breaston said, he would have had plenty of time to erase it by making other plays.

Urban, who had a solid preseason and was hoping for more work at this point, said he will continue to press Breaston for playing time.

After 2007, when Boldin and Fitzgerald each missed games with injury, he doesn't necessarily need to surpass Breaston on the depth chart to get game reps.

"We are always a play away from having a really big role," Urban said.

That's why the search for a consistent replacement to Bryant Johnson remains paramount. Boldin and Fitzgerald are the stars, but they aren't enough for the Cardinals' passing game.

"We know they are going to be an integral part of (the offense)," Warner said. "They know and I know they have a long way to go. We're just going to have to speed up the process as much as we can."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 9/25/08.

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