Cardinals seeking consistency from receivers not named Fitzgerald
TEMPE, Ariz. — At age 34, Larry Fitzgerald is having another outstanding season.
The rest of the Cardinals receivers? Not so much.
Coach Bruce Arians was asked what he’d like from his receivers not named Fitzgerald.
“Some consistency,” he said. “Some big plays and some consistency.”
Fitzgerald, in his 14th NFL season, is second in the NFL in receptions with 82 (behind Antonio Brown’s 88) for 878 yards and five touchdowns.
The second-leading receiver on the team is, or was, Andre Ellington, with 33 catches for 297 yards. Ellington was released two weeks ago and now plays for the Houston Texans.
The Cardinals long ago lost their No. 2 receiver when running back David Johnson broke his left wrist in the season opener.
“The big chunk out of the offense is David’s receptions,” Arians said after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously, his running, but his receptions are huge.”
Last season, when he led the NFL in touchdowns and yards from scrimmage, Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four TDs.
Of course, the Cardinals (5-7), home against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, have had a long time to adjust to Johnson’s absence, without much success.
Arians said Jaron Brown is the player besides Fitzgerald who’s been consistent.
But John Brown has often been nowhere to be seen. Brown didn’t practice again Wednesday due to a turf toe, the latest in a series of injuries and health issues that have plagued him.
Arians often sounds as if he’s given up being patient with John Brown — a thousand-yard receiver when Arizona went 13-3 two seasons ago.
“Yeah, but it’s two years ago,” Arians said.
Speedster J.J. Nelson has had an up-and-down season with 25 catches (same as Jaron Brown) for 418 yards and two scores.
“J.J. was having a really good year, and the knee started bothering him a little bit. But then, just dropped some easy (passes),” Arians said. “He made some great catches. The catch on the pass interference (against the Rams on Sunday), that’s what we ask of him. He’s capable of that. And then, drop a hitch? You just can’t do that.”
Nelson acknowledges his issues, that sometimes he gets caught in the moment trying to make every play a long one.
“You know me, I feel like I’m a big-play guy,” he said. “Every time I look to get the ball I’m trying to score. Going for a hitch or a slant, getting those eight to five yards we’re looking to get instead 45 or 50, is something I’ve just got to work on and continue to get better at.”
A bright spot recently, though, has been tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. The undrafted rookie tight end has nine catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games.
Notes: Adrian Peterson did not practice Wednesday after missing Sunday’s loss to the Rams with a neck injury. Asked about Peterson’s status, Arians said, “It’s really just time, the doctors and time.” … ILB Deone Bucannon (ankle) practiced after missing the Rams game. … Starting LT Jared Veldheer (elbow) did not practice and is “day to day,” Arians said.