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Larry Fitzgerald Shrugs Off "Champagne Problems"

Posted Oct 23, 2014

Notebook: Touches matter, but not above team; Campbell practices; Better vs. tight ends

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald pulls away from a pair of Eagles' defenders during his touchdown catch in Philadelphia last season.

Larry Fitzgerald has played six games in his career against the Philadelphia Eagles, scoring at least one touchdown in every single one – 10 TDs total -- and averaging 6.7 catches for 107 yards per game.

“That was then, this is now,” the wide receiver said Thursday. “Different times.”

Fitzgerald doesn’t totally hide the fact he’d like more catches when he’s talking about the subject, even if he never says so directly. Fitzgerald has 23 receptions this season for 283 yards, putting him on a non-Fitz-like pace of 61 catches and 755 yards.

“I always keep it in perspective how fortunate and blessed not only me but everyone in this locker room is,” Fitzgerald said. “Not getting enough targets? Where I grew up we called those ‘champagne problems.’

“This is my job and I love it, but I also put it in its proper place.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer praised all his receivers for never complaining about getting the ball, noting that it might be different if there were incompletions being thrown. But when the passes are being completed – and the team is winning – it’s not an issue. Coach Bruce Arians has said many times he doesn't care about anyone building stats, and that keeping interceptions down -- and not forcing the passes -- are a crucial element to the offense.

It’s not like Fitzgerald isn’t getting the ball a lot less than anyone else. Only running back Andre Ellington, with 25 receptions, has more than Fitzgerald. Michael Floyd only has 19 catches at this point.

Besides, the Cardinals have a 5-1 record.

“We all care about our touches and looks, don’t get me wrong,” Fitzgerald said. “We just don’t put our touches and looks in front of what we are trying to accomplish as a team. There is a distinct difference. You are playing ball your whole life, you are in the NFL, you’ve been ‘The Man’ your whole life, so you have to put that aside and focus on what is best for your team. I think everyone has a good grasp of that.”


Defensive end Calais Campbell returned to practice Thursday for the first time since hurting his knee in Denver. Campbell was limited, and the hope remains that he will be able to play Sunday against the Eagles. Getting some practice in already is a promising sign.

The rest of the Cardinals’ injury report was unchanged.  Tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) remained sidelined. Wide receiver John Brown (ankle), safety Rashad Johnson (knee) and running back Andre Ellington (foot) were still limited.

For the Eagles, running back Darren Sproles (knee), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf), center Jason Kelce (hernia) and guard Evan Mathis (knee) all remain limited. Wide receiver Brad Smith (groin) remained out.


Last season, the Cardinals’ problems dealing with opposing tight ends, and the Eagles exploited that fully when the teams played in Philadelphia. Tight ends Zach Ertz (two touchdowns) and Brent Celek (one) accounted for all three trips to the end zone for the Eagles in a 24-21 win.

The Cards haven’t been perfect against tight ends – Washington’s Jordan Reed had a good game – but no longer does it look like an Achilles’ heel.

“We’re much better, because guys know where to be,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “That was obviously a point of emphasis in the offseason of not letting tight ends kill us. Dating back to the Philly game, that game might have been what kept us out of the playoffs. So this year, I think we have tight ends much more under control.”


The game Sunday was officially called a sellout Thursday, the 89th straight game for the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game will be aired on local TV, with Fox using Chris Myers and Ronde Barber on the broadcast. 

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