Fitzgerald learning to play 3 spots in new offense
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)
In his record-breaking decade in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald has grown comfortable in one position.
Now new Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has Fitzgerald on the move, learning to play all three wide receiver spots.
Fitzgerald says after having some success it's hard to shake his familiar role, but he's working to do just what Arians wants.
''I think as a human being you're a bit of a creature of habit,'' Fitzgerald said. ''I've played the same position since I was in junior high school. I've never had to really move around and you know I've gotten good at it. So I think we all resist change to a certain degree, especially if you've had a little bit of success. But as I've gone through the offseason workouts, I've definitely become more receptive of it.''
Arians said it's a simple concept. Moving his star receiver around will make it much harder for defenses to zero in on him with double coverage.
''If you want a hundred balls, move around,'' Arians said. ''If they know where you're at, it's easy to take you out of the game.''
Arians said Reggie Wayne made the same adjustment a year ago in Indianapolis, where Arians first was offensive coordinator, then interim head coach.
''I think Reggie bought in right away last year,'' Arians said. ''Fitz is buying in now, and it's hard because when you're a veteran of your stature, you don't like making mistakes, you get embarrassed.''
Fitzgerald said he respects Arians' pedigree.
''He tells me there's going to be a lot more opportunities to make plays inside,'' Fitzgerald said. ''It's going to give my teammates Andre Roberts and Michael (Floyd) and Rob Housler and guys like that better matchups as well. It's not all about me, it's about making the team go. We know that if this team is moving in the right direction, it's because the offense has put points on the board.''
That wasn't the case last year, when the Cardinals had the worst offense in the NFL, with quarterback woes leading to the team losing 11 of its last 12, resulting in the firing of coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Arians has overseen a major personnel overhaul, including bringing in quarterback Carson Palmer.
Fitzgerald hasn't spoken much to the media in the offseason, and he said it's because he's motivated to talk less and show better results after last year's struggles.
''It's `prove it' for me,'' he said. ''It's not about the talking and sound bites, it's about going out there and being productive and getting back to the level of play that I'm accustomed to and that everybody around here is accustomed to.''
While Arians is headed for a few weeks' respite at his lakeside home in Georgia, Palmer and his receivers will reconvene in Minnesota for Fitzgerald's annual workouts there.
Fitzgerald also has a gig as a judge at the Miss USA contest.
He and the rest of the Cardinals practiced for just a half-hour in their final day of minicamp on Thursday as Arians let them go early as a reward for all the offseason work they had done.
The next formal gathering of the team will be at training camp, to be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The reporting date has not been announced.