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John DeShazier: Ted Ginn Jr. ready to compete for his role with Saints

Posted Mar 13, 2017

Ginn; 'That’s why it was very important to find a home like I found because Drew Brees is the type of guy that can extend your career'

Even though Ted Ginn Jr. entered the New Orleans Saints’ life as a free agent signee at about the same time that Brandin Cooks exited it via a trade with New England, one speedster (Ginn) doesn’t see himself as the new version of the other (Cooks).

“I just come right in and I’m going to play the (wide receiver) position the way I know how to play it,” Ginn said Monday afternoon in a teleconference. “Coaches are going to help me line up, players going to give me the intel that I need to do it and I(‘ll) just take over and play the way I know how.”

That way helped Ginn (5 feet 11, 178 pounds and entering his 11th season) become one of the dangerous offensive threats for Carolina the past two seasons, where he posted two of the best three seasons of his career as a receiver – 44 catches for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015, then 54 catches for 752 yards and four scores last season.

“I think my growth as a receiver in this league has changed with the time,” said the 31-year-old. “I started off down in Miami (where) I played my role that I could play best. Then went to San Francisco and did the same. Came to Carolina for that one year and I excelled a little bit better.

“Then I ended up back in Arizona for whatever reason, then I had two great years (back in Carolina). I just think that it was the opportunities that were given to me in Carolina for me to be able to showcase who I am.

“Now that I’m coming to a new beginning, and I feel that (the Saints) watched me as long as I watched myself. They have a pretty good insight of how they want to use me and just over the years they have learned how to use different receivers and bring (their game) to the top.”

The Saints had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers last season (Cooks and rookie Michael Thomas; Cooks topped the mark for the second consecutive year) and Willie Snead has caught 141 passes for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. Quarterback Drew Brees just completed his NFL-record fifth 5,000-yard season, in 11 years as a Saint.

“I am a guy who will come out and compete and I compete day in and day out and I just feel like right here is a great opportunity for me to compete,” Ginn said. “I watch a guy like (Willie) Snead who’s only been there a year, two years now. He excelled in his game and even Mike Thomas.

“You go and watch the type of year that he had and from my experience I look at this team as a growth team, as a team that expands their talent to a greater high. I watched them do it with running backs they have had over the years. Different things like that, guys come in and succeed and they have fun while they do it.”

Plus, Ginn said, there’s the added bonus of playing with Brees.

His offensive production the last two years came with Cam Newton as his quarterback with Carolina. Newton was the NFL’s MVP in 2016. But the Saints offense has been significantly more productive over the long haul; since Brees signed as a free agent in 2006, the year that Coach Sean Payton was hired, the Saints never have finished lower than sixth in total offense.

“Yes, I had the best two years and I wanted to keep them going like that,” he said. “That’s why it was very important to find a home like I found because Drew Brees is the type of guy that can extend your career, and that’s what it’s all about – being able to put a bunch of more years together to fight for different type of goals. And the main goal is the Super Bowl, and I think that this talent that they have together and we keep building it up, I think we’ll be good.”

Ginn also could serve as the Saints’ primary punt returner. In his career, he has returned 238 punts for 2,497 yards and four touchdowns. The last two seasons, he has 56 returns for 479 yards.

“Well, you know I have always been a punt returner,” he said. “That is something that I take pride to do. That is something that is me. I will fight for that position no doubt about it and I’m just going to come in and just showcase myself and showcase who I am, and be able to give them a great window of what they can do with me and what they can’t.

“We (Ginn and the Saints) are both are still new to this. We‘re both are still young (in this relationship). It has only been a week or so and it is the offseason, so everybody is (spread out) everywhere and I think once we buckle down, get to our OTAs, get into our camps and different things like that then we will figure out what will be my role. Until then I’m just going to come in and be Ted Ginn Jr.”