Cardinals' Fitzgerald unconcerned by opening loss: 'It's only 1 game'

BY Bob Baum • September 14, 2017

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald is chasing a Super Bowl ring. It's about the only thing he hasn't accomplished in his remarkable career.

So, in his 14th -- and maybe his last -- NFL season, to open with a loss on the road to Detroit and lose the team's All-Pro running back David Johnson in the process must have been extra disappointing.

Now it's on to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Sunday.

"Obviously you don't want to put two of those kinds of performances together but it's one game," he said after Thursday's practice. "We didn't play well."

Coach Bruce Arians singled out his "five-star players" for not playing well. That presumably includes Fitzgerald, who was targeted 13 times and caught six for 74 yards. Not the success ratio that's normal for the 34-year-old receiver who keeps climbing the upper reaches of NFL career statistical leaders.

Fitzgerald said everyone on the team needs to do better if the Cardinals are to avoid falling to 0-2 heading into their Sept. 25 home opener on a Monday night against Dallas.

"We all understand what we did last week was unacceptable," he said, "and if we want to be a team that's contending to win an NFC West division title, we've got to play much better."

Fitzgerald said he's confident that Carson Palmer will bounce back from his poor performance in the season opener, when the 15-year NFL veteran quarterback completed 27 of 48 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions.

"You play 15 years in this league, you have to be resilient," Fitzgerald said. "He's a resilient person. His team is resilient."

He acknowledged the impact of losing Johnson, who is expected to be out two to three months after surgery for a dislocated left wrist, but said that's the way it goes in this rough game.

"Obviously losing the best offensive player, we feel, in the National Football League is deflating," Fitzgerald said, "but there's going to be a lot more guys that are going to go down for all the rest of the teams in the league. That's what the numbers always say. The guys that are going to be playing just have to step up and make their plays."

So who makes up for the more than 2,000 yards of offense Johnson had last season?

"When he gets back, week nine or eight or whatever he gets back, he's going to have to get 2,000 yards from there to make up for lost time," Fitzgerald said. "Until then the other guys have to chip in. That's the thinking."

Fitzgerald said he believes Johnson's personality and attitude will help in his recovery.

"David, more so than any other guys I've been around, the way he is, how humble and hardworking and dedicated and determined will make his recovery that much better," Fitzgerald said.

"He's a guy who's very grounded. His head is never in the clouds. He's not motivated by outside things. He's just motivated to be great so I think that will really help him in his rehabilitation."

Fitzgerald has never had to deal with such a severe injury. He's been remarkably durable since the Cardinals drafted him No. 3 overall in 2004, missing only six of 209 games, just two since 2008.

But he has acknowledged the wear and tear of his long career, though.

A week ago, as he headed toward his 14th season opener, Fitzgerald was asked how he felt.

"Ask me next week," he said.

So on Thursday someone asked him how he felt.

"It felt like it normally felt," Fitzgerald said. "Hits are still hard."

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