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New Orleans Saints program cover story: Ted Ginn Jr.

Veteran wide receiver thriving with Saints

New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018 First Day in Pads Michael C. Hebert

Each day, Ted Ginn Jr. pulls into work at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center driving his custom white Jeep, featuring a gold trim and all-black rims. The color scheme seems fitting for the New Orleans Saints wideout, right?

However, the reasoning behind the custom paint job might not be what you initially thought. If you look closely, you'll notice that Ginn custom Jeep has North Carolina plates. That's because he purchased the Jeep before the thought of suiting up in the Black and Gold ever crossed his mind.

"My wife and I are gold fanatics." Ginn said. "Since I have been with her, I have started liking gold a lot. Actually, when I got the Jeep I thought I was going back to Carolina."

Ginn was an unrestricted free agent after finishing 2016 as a member of the Panthers. That offseason, Ginn inked a three-year deal that brought him to New Orleans after meeting with Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton at the start of free agency.

"And then I got here and it's like, right on time."

Blessed with a combination of speed and elusiveness, Ted Ginn Jr. enters his 12th NFL season and his second campaign with the Saints. Originally the ninth overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, Ginn is one of only 10 players in National Football League history to register two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game and the versatile threat has also developed into a playmaker on offense. He's posted career totals of 362 receptions for 5,072 yards (14.0 avg.) with 29 touchdowns and has rushed 62 times for 442 yards with two TDs.

On special teams, the Cleveland native has returned 257 punts for 2,600 yards (10.1 avg.) with four touchdowns and brought back 305 kickoffs for 6,898 yards (22.6 avg.) with three touchdowns. Before Ginn's dream of playing in the NFL came to fruition, his father, Ted Ginn Sr., coached him at Glenville High School in Cleveland. Ginn said that his dad never pressured him into football, but at a young age, he believed that he could be a great player.

"I never felt any pressure from my dad. He let me love the game first. Then once I got it, that's when he came out with his techniques."

Although Ginn's father was his high school coach, it wasn't a cakewalk for him to earn a roster spot on the varsity team.

"My sophomore year at Glenville, he wasn't going to let me play varsity," Ginn said. "If it had not been for the players or the other coaches who were like, 'Let your son play varsity, he is good,' I would have been on the junior varsity."

Ginn ended up starting on varsity his sophomore season at Glenville and led the Tarblooders in interceptions and touchdowns. He went on to attend Ohio State, where he earned second-team All-American and All-Big 10 honors as a junior in 2006.

At this stage of his professional career, Ginn Jr. serves as a veteran presence in a young Saints receivers room. So while he continues to perfect his own craft, he has also taken on the responsibility of mentoring the younger talent in the room with the likes of Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre'Quan Smith. When asked whether he is a vocal leader or one who leads by example, Ginn said, "I lead by example."

That example produced one of the most consistent seasons of his NFL career in 2017, following up on three breakthrough campaigns in Carolina in 2013 and from 2015-16, when he played in 15 games with 10 starts in the regular season and posted 53 receptions for 787 yards (14.8 avg.) and four touchdowns, three for 36 yards or more to show that nothing has come off of his deep threat abilities even in his 30s. In the postseason, he added 12 more grabs for 187 yards (15.6 avg.), including an 80-yard touchdown in the NFC wild card playoff against his former team, as he served as the perfect complement to Thomas.

There's no reason to believe that won't continue in 2018 with one more offseason and training camp in the Saints offense and more time in the offensive meeting rooms and on the practice field with quarterback Drew Brees.

"I tell him he's like wine," Payton said. "I don't know that anything's changed. I think he found himself in offenses that have had a vision more correctly (referring to Carolina and New Orleans), as opposed to certain offenses that haven't had the same. He's a pretty savvy player, and he understands coverages and leverage."

Brees shares Payton's opinion and is excited to see what Ginn can do for the offense in year two of their time together.

"My perception is that he's an extremely explosive player, obviously a great vertical threat everywhere he has been," Brees said. "That seemed to be the way that teams used him, but it seemed to be as the only way teams used him. Whereas, I feel like he's come in to this offense and really flourished, and I feel like we've given him the opportunity to showcase a lot of the other things that he can do."


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