We all knew the Arizona Cardinals would likely be short-handed at wide receiver on Sunday, with pro bowler Anquan Boldin doubtful with a sprained knee and ankle. The move would insert Steve Breaston as the 2nd string receiver, but would leave a vacant hole on the depth chart.
Doucet did fill in behind Fitzgerald and Breaston, but not without concern.
The Packers featured the 5th ranked pass defense in the NFL before the playoffs started, and featured a potential Defensive Player of the Year in Charles Woodson.
However on Sunday, Doucet not only caught his first postseason pass, but he also added two touchdowns. It wasn't that long ago that Doucet was catching his first career touchdown pass two weeks before the postseason started. Now he's out plowing through defenders and toppling into the endzone without a helmet.
Ken Whisenhunt's strategy of letting rookies develop before they contribute to the team has been successful for the Cardinals. Steve Breaston, Calais Campbell, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and now Doucet are all benefiting.
With the future of Anquan Boldin uncertain, Doucet could be the next receiver in line to have success in Arizona. Should the Cardinals deal Boldin during the offseason, a line up of Larry Fitzgerald, Breaston, and Doucet would be a legitimate threat.
So what can we make out of Early? He gives the Cardinals something different then what they're already used to. He can surely catch the ball, but it's his field awareness that is surprising. On the first touchdown pass, he took advantage of a double team to Larry Fitzgerald, and streaked into the endzone on a slanting pattern. He's also unexpectedly gifted at YAC(yards after the catch). Doucet isn't built like a tank, yet somehow stayed upright to score his second touchdown, and bullied his way into field goal range within the final seconds of the 4th quarter. Different, is a good thing in this case.
Prior to Sunday, Doucet caught 17 passes for 214 yards and 1 touchdown in two years. On Sunday he caught 6 passes for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns. His career is still young, but it's surely encouraging to see Doucet making an impact already, let alone in a playoff game of that magnitude.