Creative rookie making mark as Arizona Cardinals kick returner Print
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Friday, 07 December 2007 01:23
NFL Headline News

 TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Creativity comes natural to Steve Breaston, on and off the field.
The soft-spoken rookie likes to write poetry in his spare time, when he's not the Arizona Cardinals' kick returner, scrambling to avoid a crushing blow from some onrushing would-be tackler.
The poems, he said, are about ``just everything, life, just having fun with it. That's something I enjoy doing - myself, other people's lives, what other people go through. It's an outlet.''
Even though he was the Big Ten's career leader in punt returns and return yards while at Michigan, Breaston was still available for the Cardinals' fifth-round pick in this year's draft. He was the 142nd player chosen overall.
Quickly, though, Breaston has shown he belongs in the NFL, and that's what he covets most.
``Everybody thinks about this when they're little,'' Breaston said after Thursday's practice, ``and I feel I'm blessed every day just to go out and play at this level.''
He grew up in North Braddock, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh, so it was fitting that his breakthrough NFL performance came against the Steelers - a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown helped the Cardinals to a 21-14 upset victory.
``I had a family that grew up watching the Steelers,'' Breaston said. ``I'm from that area and I know a lot of people were watching. Growing up, you never think you'll make a play against your hometown team.''
It was the first punt return for a touchdown by a Cardinals player in 21 years, and earned Breaston NFC special teams player of the week honors.
With four games to play, Breaston has 363 yards in punt returns, seventh on the franchise's career list - 187 yards behind record holder Val Sikahema's 550, set in 1987.
Breaston had a 46-yard punt return and 52-yard kickoff return in Arizona's victory over Detroit on Nov. 11. Last Sunday, his 59-yard kickoff return set up a field goal in Arizona's 27-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Breaston was drafted to immediately take over as punt and kickoff returner, but he had to show in training camp and preseason that he could handle the job.
``One thing that you're scared about or concerned about is having a rookie handle those duties,'' Whisenhunt said.
There are still rookie mistakes, such as his fair catch inside his own 5-yard line against San Francisco. But overall, Whisenhunt is more than pleased with Breaston's development.
``I think a lot of it started from the Steelers game,'' the coach said. ``That was a big return for a touchdown. It validated what he can do.''
Breaston is gaining ground for playing time at receiver, too. With Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin out with injuries against the Browns, he caught a crucial 21-yard pass from Kurt Warner on Arizona's final, time-consuming drive. A personal foul for a late hit added 15 yards to the play.
``I feel as long as I keep working, and I keep getting opportunities,'' Breaston said, ``good things will happen.''
 

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