Cardinals’ new weapons could benefit Fitzgerald
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald saw his numbers drop a bit last season, and he could be in for another dip this season with Michael Floyd emerging as a top-tier threat.
Or he could put up similar numbers thanks to a new arsenal of weapons at the offense’s disposal.
With Floyd emerging, the addition of Ted Ginn Jr., and a deep group of tight ends, Fitzgerald stands to benefit as defenses must cover all the Cardinals’ offensive threats.
"It helps spread the wealth and gets the attention away from him some," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "Larry’s a guy that has a reputation, so he’s going to get some coverage, but you can’t force feed it."
Last season, Fitzgerald had more catches (82) than Floyd (65) but fewer yards — 954 to Floyd’s 1041. Those numbers very well may dip again, but Fitzgerald’s new slot role and the diverted attention may leave him open more often, which could mean similar numbers.
Or, with running back Andre Ellington, Floyd, Ginn, tight ends Jake Ballard and John Carlson and perhaps speedy rookie receiver John Brown commanding touches, there will be less for Fitzgerald than in past years when he was far and away the team’s best offensive weapon.
Either way, Fitzgerald is excited about the offensive possibilities this season and certainly isn’t one to complain about touches.
"I couldn’t be more excited about the weapons we have this year," Fitzgerald said. "The more weapons you have the more success you’re able to have because the defense can’t focus on any one particular person."
Fitzgerald, 30, remains one of the league’s most talented and dangerous receivers, and more opportunities to make plays could mean a bit of statistical resurgence as well.
Ellington on Wednesday remained on the sidelines for a second straight practice with a sore neck but is expected back Friday, the Cardinals’ next practice. Meanwhile, Stepfan Taylor and Jonahtan Dwyer continue to jockey for position on the depth chart behind Ellington.
Arians says the Cardinals won’t have a defined depth chart behind Ellington, so calling it a position battle is not be accurate.
"It’s an ongoing thing, and we’ll use them both," Arians said. "We really won’t have a two and a three. They’ll have roles and go into the games with roles so everyone knows exactly what to expect. And of course when your number is called to increase your role you better be ready."
Arians expressed confidence in both, and was happy with how the run game looked in Tuesday’s practice even with Ellington sidelined.
"We ran the ball fairly well at times," Arians said. "Any time we can run the ball fairly well against our defense, that’s saying a lot being that we’re outstanding against the run. That speaks volumes for the offensive line and the backs and tight ends, especially the tight ends."
— Arians said nose tackle Dan Williams, who has been out with a swollen knee since Sunday, should be ready to practice Friday.
— Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander had a scheduled day off Wednesday so he could have back-to-back days off.
— Tight end Darren Fells, presumably fifth or sixth on the depth chart at his position, made an impression on Arians on Tuesday: "Darren Fells really got my attention yesterday for the first time. I saw him rock some heads back blocking."