Ken Whisenhunt was right.
The coach, after the Cards took wide receiver Andre Roberts in the third round — a player who also is a punt returner — of the draft, said he wasn’t comfortable with Steve Breaston continuing to return punts because of Breaston’s rise to the No. 2 receiver. Injuries are a concern, although Whisenhunt noted “it’s going to be hard because Steve isn’t going to want to give that up.”
So the other day, I started asking Breaston if he indeed understood why the Cards were going to take him off punt returns — and he didn’t even let me finish.
“I didn’t lose it yet,” Breaston said, before bursting into laughter.
“It was default (I lost) kick return,” Breaston said, noting he injured his knee in the first preseason game. “I got hurt early and LaRod (Stephens-Howling) ran away with that, so I am trying to hold on as long as I can to punts. I’ve been punt returning since I was 10 years old, so you know …”
Breaston continued to smile. He isn’t stupid. He knows this is a battle he cannot win. The Cards need him at receiver, and don’t need him getting exhausted in punt returns. There is a reason a couple of the draft picks (Roberts and Jorrick Calvin) and a slew of the undrafted rookies all have return talents. Whisenhunt is looking for his alternatives.
Breaston has broken his share of big returns — Minnesota last year, for instance, and the franchise-changing TD against Pittsburgh in Whisenhunt’s first year that led to a milestone victory — but it is his sure-handedness Whisenhunt loved (he’s never dropped a ball), to go with Breaston’s complete fearlessness back there. This isn’t about Breaston losing the job at all.
Regardless of the reasoning, “it will always be in the back of my mind I lost it,” Breaston said. “I feel like I can put myself in shape where I can carry that. I feel I have always returned punts and I enjoy that. I want to get back to where I’m going to compete. I hope they give me that opportunity. I want that shot. I can’t lose it.”
Whiz was right. Breaston may have been smiling when talking about the subject, but he isn’t going down without a fight.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Jorrick Calvin, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Steve Breaston
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