Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is Panthers WR Ted Ginn Jr. the fastest player in the NFL?

Panthers WR Ted Ginn Jr. has been clocked running as fast as 22.4 mph this season. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
December 15, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The debate in training camp was whether wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. was the fastest player on the Carolina Panthers' roster.

Perhaps that debate should turn into whether Ginn is the fastest player in the NFL.

Ginn was clocked at 22.44 mph near the end of his 74-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter of Sunday’s 38-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

That's the fastest foot speed turned in on an offensive play all season, according to the NFL Network.

Ginn surpassed Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (22.05 mph), Pittsburgh wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (22.01), Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (21.89) and Arizona wide receiver J.J. Nelson (21.78).

To put this in perspective, the average speed of Usain Bolt when he ran the 100 meters in a record 9.58 seconds was 23.35 mph.

What's really impressive is Ginn, 30, is seven years older than Johnson. He's the second-oldest among those in this year's top five, a month younger than Peterson.

Many may be surprised by Ginn's speed. Not Ginn.

Asked on Sunday whether Atlanta respected his speed, he deadpanned, "Well, I guess they did, but everybody wants to see it for themselves."

Ginn gave the same sort of response in training camp when asked how his speed compared to undrafted rookie Damiere Byrd, who was clocked at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash during his pro day at the University of South Carolina, and wide receiver Corey Brown, who ran a 4.3 40 at Ohio State.

"No disrespect," Ginn said. "But I get a little edgy when people talk about fast."

Ginn reportedly was clocked at 4.28 seconds in the 40 while at Ohio State, where he was a track star. He claims to have gone as low as 4.22 seconds.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said "wow" the first time he saw Ginn on the field in 2013. Ginn caught 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns that season, then signed a free-agent deal with Arizona.

The Cardinals released Ginn after a disappointing season in which he caught 14 passes for 190 yards and no touchdowns.

The Panthers were quick to re-sign him, understanding Ginn's speed could blow the top off defenses.

Despite a few drops, including two long ones that would have been touchdowns a week ago against New Orleans, Ginn hasn't disappointed. He already has 37 catches for 645 yards and eight touchdowns.

Among the 61 players who have been targeted 70 times this season, Ginn has the highest air yards per attempt (16.6), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

That is the highest of any Carolina player over the last 15 seasons.

Ginn's speed is a big reason the Panthers now are the highest-scoring team in the NFL (31.6 ppg.) for the first time in franchise history.

"Ted, he can really fly," tight end Greg Olsen said during the training camp debate about the fastest Carolina player. "I'm telling you, he's a different cat. He's got elite speed in this league.

"Guys like him are special athletes. ... You wouldn't think he was 30."

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