Advertising

Friday before the Chargers, and old friends reunite

Way back when, the Cardinals could’ve drafted Philip Rivers. He was on the board in 2004, but the Cards went with Larry Fitzgerald instead, and Rivers went next to the New York Giants – only to be quickly dealt to the Chargers in exchange for Eli Manning.

But being on different teams didn’t stop Rivers and Fitz from forming a friendship, forged amid the many college football awards dinners they each attended after their final college season and various football camps.

“That’s my guy,” Fitzgerald said. “I love Phil. … He and Eli are some of my closest friends. I talk to those guys seven or eight times a year, keep up with the families. We are real close.”

Rivers is playing as well has he ever has, on pace to set career-bests in passer rating and touchdowns. The Chargers are a solid team that, even with a host of injuries, have a chance to emerge from the AFC even with the Patriots and the red-hot Chiefs making their case. Fitz, meanwhile, knows the season won’t last more than the six remaining games. Oh, to be able to hear their postgame chat Sunday.

-- Speaking of Rivers, he was a big topic this week, not just because of his play but his mouth. Steve Wilks, who was on the Chargers’ coaching staff from 2009-11, got to see Rivers and his verbal missiles up close.

“He doesn’t say one curse word,” Wilks said, “but he’s the biggest trash-talker. That’s hard.”

Then again, Wilks said, “that position, you need that kind of attitude.” Which is good then, because Josh Rosen has already shown a little bit of that.

“As far as talking trash, Philip is at the top of the list, hands down,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “I think Josh will be a close number two once he continues to get his feet wet. Josh, I like his attitude towards the game for sure.”

-- It’s one of the reasons Rosen’s Wired piece from last weekend’s game was so intriguing. (Not that Rosen really trash-talked, but the video gives you a great sense of the rookie on game days.)

-- Safety Tre Boston is never one to be quiet, and I’m guessing the chance to play against the Chargers means something to him, even if he was only there one year, in 2017. Between that and his history with Wilks – playing with him in Carolina – he’s an important piece of the secondary.

“Tre is definitely an extension of my voice,” Wilks said. “Sometimes I think he’s trying to mimic me with the things he’s saying on the field. He does a great job constantly trying to deliver the message.”

So does he do a good impersonation, at least? “No, not at all,” Wilks said. “Not even close.”

-- Boston might be able to give the Cards some insight, but Peterson hopes too as well, given that former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is the Chargers’ offensive coordinator.

“Me being here my first two seasons with coach Whisenhunt, I kind of understand his offensive philosophy,” Peterson said.

-- Suns owner Robert Sarver visited the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on Thanksgiving, and Fitzgerald was the one showing him around. Fitz was being a good host, but he never stops picking the brains of guys who have made a lot of money. That’s the kind of post-football career that Fitz would like to have – making lots of money in business.

-- Sunday will be a color rush game of sorts. The Chargers are wearing their color rush unis (of which I am a fan, with the dark blue jerseys and pants) against the Cardinals wearing white-on-white.

-- The Cardinals have not forced a turnover since the Thursday night game against Denver. That’s three games and counting. Given that the defense has played OK in that time, it’s surprising to see.

-- Because of the rotation of the schedule, the Chargers are another team the Cardinals don’t see often. The last time they played, it was opening night of the 2014 season at State Farm Stadium, a thrilling 18-17 Cardinals’ win on a day that is best remembered because of the biblical amount of rain the Valley got, flooding I-10 to the point of impassibility. But I digress.

-- More Rosen – kind of. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who has become a very good quote (much appreciated in my line of work), likes to refer to Rosen as “the kid.” On one answer Thursday, he mentioned “the kid” four times. In another answer, he referred to Rosen as “the kid” seven times. So just when will Leftwich stop calling him “the kid?”

“I don’t know -- but it’s going to be the rest of this year,” Leftwich said with a chuckle.

Leftwich also said he doesn’t tire talking about Rosen.

“No. That’s my life,” Leftwich said. “Talk about Josh and my son. That’s about all I talk about. Josh and my son. That’s it for me.”

-- It’s going to be a little weird seeing a football game at such a small stadium. Boston talked about how “intimate” it is but mostly, the Cardinals shrugged it off.

“Football is football,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re playing the Chargers. It wouldn’t matter if we were playing them here in Tempe (on the practice field). … How many people will be there will be inconsequential.”

See you Sunday.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers (left) and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald after a preseason game in 2011.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (left) and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald after a preseason game in 2011.

Advertising