Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald thinks he could play in Atlanta this weekend.
Last season, Larry Fitzgerald hurt his hamstring the week of the Cardinals' game in San Francisco and coach Bruce Arians asked Fitzgerald if he played if he could still be effective.
The wide receiver said yes, and went out to have six catches for 117 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception.
That was the same question Arians was posing last weekend to Fitzgerald, who ultimately had to say no and sit out the game in Seattle because of his knee sprain. And it will be the question he faces again this weekend when the Cardinals play in Atlanta.
Fitzgerald has to know if he plays he can still be effective. The Cardinals can't afford less.
"That's one thing I never want to lose is his trust in me," Fitzgerald said of Arians. "I don't want to mess up that trust."
Fitzgerald skipped the Cardinals' Thanksgiving practice, but still was willing to say it was "highly likely" he played in Atlanta. Then again, Fitzgerald said whether he plays isn't his call, and his lack of practice time could still be a factor.
Fitzgerald said missing practice wouldn't be a problem, however.
"Everything Mike Floyd, Smoke, Jaron are doing, I'm doing the exact same thing except running the routes," Fitzgerald said. "From a mental standpoint I am honed in."
By sitting out last week's game, Fitzgerald missed his first game since Dec. 2, 2007. That time, he missed just one game. Fitzgerald has missed consecutive games just once in his career, when he pulled a hamstring and missed three in a row Oct. 16-29, 2006 – a streak that began with the infamous "They were who we thought they were" Monday Night Football game against the Bears.
Fitzgerald is probably going to be a game-day decision for a second straight week.
"At the end of the day, if we don't drop a couple balls, we don't make a big play and get a penalty, you really don't notice Larry is not there," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said of Fitzgerald sitting out in Seattle. "Did we miss him? Yeah, we missed him, because he's one of our veteran leaders.
"It makes a difference having him out there, but for us, it can't be a distraction if he's not. Where we are trying to go, everybody has got to play. Whoever is out there we have to produce and we did not do that last weekend."
For Fitzgerald, he wants to play in part so he can get back into the way of Sunday life to which he is accustomed.
"Not being out there with your teammates is just … I can't even remember the last time I missed a game before that," Fitzgerald said. "I didn't know the routine, what I was supposed to do. It was just a really awkward feeling."
SACKS HAVE COME IN BUNCHES OF LATE
The Cardinals had eight sacks in the first eight games of the season. They have come up with 17 in the past three games.
"At this point in the year, guys are getting a lot more familiar with each other," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. "They do come in bunches. They just need to keep working on it."
Cornerback Patrick Peterson added that one of the reasons the secondary's play has improved is in part because of the pass rush.
"The pressure they get on the quarterback, the easier our job will be," Peterson said. "If you are in coverage for more than five seconds, it's going to be a long day."
COOPER GETS SOME TIME AT TIGHT END
Backup guard and 2013 No. 1 draft pick Jonathan Cooper got into Sunday's game, playing five plays as a "tight end" as the Cardinals went with a jumbo package for running plays.
"He did pretty good last week. I was proud of him," Goodwin said. "The biggest thing is that I tell him, when your time comes, make sure you are ready. Because you don't want to fail. He's getting closer and closer, and we'll see if he gets out there at tight end again."
Arians and Goodwin have consistently said Cooper likely wouldn't be put into the lineup as a guard unless there was an injury.
STINSON SITS OUT
Defensive tackle Ed Stinson tried to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but he was downgraded to DNP Thursday as he tries to get past a toe injury. He joined Fitzgerald and linebacker Kenny Demens (hamstring) sitting out practice.
Linebacker Marcus Benard (shoulder) and wide receiver John Brown (wisdom teeth extraction) were upgraded to full practice. Running back Andre Ellington (toe/hip) and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee) remained limited.
For the Falcons, tackle Jonathan Scott (hamstring) was upgraded to full, and wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot) was upgraded to limited. Cornerback Robert Alford (wrist), defensive tackle Paul Soliai (non-injury related) and wide receiver Roddy White (ankle) remained DNP.
Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Falcons