CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Ted Ginn Jr. is thriving again in Carolina.
The Panthers wide receiver said his early season success has a lot to do with playing in what he feels is a pressure-free environment.
The numbers support his theory.
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In 20 career games with Carolina, Ginn has eight touchdown receptions. In seven seasons (or 104 games) elsewhere, he had six TD catches.
”They let me play football,” Ginn said Wednesday after practice. ”They let me go out and do what I can do.”
Ginn has learned during his previous stops in Miami, San Francisco and Arizona that isn’t always the case.
When he first signed with Carolina in 2013 as an unrestricted free agent the team demonstrated patience with him learning a new system rather than trying to hassle him to produce right away.
”Sometimes when you get in this game, if you make a mistake here or make a mistake there they think, `Hey another guy can do it,”’ Ginn said. ”Yeah, that’s possible. But you have to let people play a little to truly understand what they are good at. Here, we live with the ups and downs and keep fighting.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said when Ginn arrived the team purposely didn’t try to thrust high expectations on him but tried to ease him into the offense, as well as using him as a returner.
Granted, it helped the Panthers had two quality wide receivers at that time in Steve Smith Sr. and Brandon LaFell locked in as starters and were looking for a role player. Ginn turned out to be a perfect complement, catching 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns while helping the Panthers to a 12-4 season and reigniting his NFL career.
Ginn has been good for the Panthers, too.
They are 16-4 with him on the roster.
”We didn’t put these demands on him,” Rivera said. ”We told him play your best. I don’t think we set the bar so high where it was unrealistic and unfair. He was a first-round pick (in 2007) and the expectations at some places might have been too high and unfair.”
The Panthers also worked to install certain plays to take advantage of Ginn’s high-end speed.
Despite his success in Carolina in 2013, Ginn left the Panthers and signed with the Cardinals as a free agent the following spring, later saying he ”chased a check.”
But he never fit in and never produced in Arizona and was dumped one year into his contract.
He’s gladly returned to Carolina where he’s fit right back in.
In fact, his role has increased. His next challenge is Sunday against the talented Seattle secondary.
The 30-year-old Ginn has stepped into starting role after a season-ending knee injury to Kelvin Benjamin.
He’s second on the team in receptions (12) and yards receiving (206) and has three touchdowns, including two in Carolina’s 37-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4.
And he’s happy again.
Ginn said playing under three former coaches in Carolina who have played in the NFL – Rivera, offensive coordinator Mike Shula and wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl – have helped.
”They have played this game at one point in time, so they understand that it is not always going to go as planner,” Ginn said. ”So there is a little more leeway here when things don’t go right.”
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