Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won't blame his statistics on his hamstring injuries.
Larry Fitzgerald isn't 100 percent healthy. But the wide receiver has practiced full all this week after the Cardinals had extra days off, and he is creeping closer to ridding himself of his hamstring problems.
"Am I where I want to be? No," Fitzgerald said. "But I am better than I was, and that's progress."
That said, Fitzgerald deflected the talk that his production dip – 32 catches in seven games, behind even the pace he had during his difficult season in 2012 – was hamstring-related. That isn't surprising from a player who has missed only four games in his 10-year NFL career.
"I'm not one to make excuses," Fitzgerald said. "I don't use it as an excuse at all. I have to study harder, I have to run
faster, I've got to get out of my breaks better. I have to do everything at a higher level and a higher sense of urgency. Be better for (quarterback) Carson (Palmer) and the rest of my team. Plain and simple."
Coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday Fitzgerald had not been "the normal guy," but had still found ways to be effective. Four catches away from being the youngest player ever to reach 800 career receptions, Fitzgerald's play remains important to an offense struggling to move the ball consistently.
"You always try to get him the ball," Palmer said. "He's going to make the play more often than not. You've got to be smart when you do take those opportunities. We'd like to have him at 800 catches three weeks ago, but you can't try to make something happen when it's not there and try to get him to 800 or try to get him his touches when really the play isn't there."
Fitzgerald also wouldn't agree with former teammate Kurt Warner, who suggested recently Fitzgerald's production might be hampered because the Cards are using Fitzgerald inside so much.
Fitzgerald allowed that he was uncomfortable playing inside when Warner was on the team, but that was because teammate Anquan Boldin preferred to work inside and "I didn't want to cramp his work area."
"Whatever Coach Arians wants me to do I'm going to do it and I'm going to do it better," Fitzgerald said. "He's won two Super Bowls and been on countless playoff teams. He knows what he's doing, his staff knows what they are doing. I just need to be able to do what he asks me to do."
MENDENHALL SITS AND RUNNING BACK OPTIONS
Running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) was the only Cardinal not practicing Thursday, creating doubt whether he will be able to play Sunday against the Falcons. Mendenhall has been struggling, gaining just 126 yards on 52 carries in the last four games, a 2.4-yard average.
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Mendenhall's missed time "hurts a little bit." Mendenhall played earlier in the season after missing chunks of practice time, so Friday would seem to be an important day.
The possibility arises if Mendenhall cannot go that Ryan Williams would be active for the first time this season, especially with fellow running back Allfonso Smith (hamstring) also still limited at practice.
"Hopefully he will get in there at some point but that's not my call at the end of the day," Goodwin said. "It's Coach's decision and we'll go with it when he says so."
The likely starter if Mendenhall can't play is rookie Andre Ellington, although Goodwin reiterated Arians' earlier comments that Ellington won't suddenly be an every-down back.
"The thing we can't do is beat him up because he's not that big of a guy," Goodwin said. "We have to be smart. We will feed him as much as we can without beating him up."
COLLEDGE, SHAUGHNESSY BACK TO LIMITED WORK
Guard Daryn Colledge (knee), guard Earl Watford (knee) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (knee) were all upgraded to limited work Thursday. Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (hip) and wide receiver Jaron Brown (ankle) were also upgraded Thursday, to full practice.
Linebacker Karlos Dansby (quadriceps) and wide receiver Brittan Golden (hamstring) remained limited.
For the Falcons, wide receiver Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) remained sidelined, along with running back Jason Snelling (ankle) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh). Limited were running back Steven Jackson (hamstring), tackle Sam Baker (knee), tight end Chase Coffman (knee), linebacker Akeem Dent (ankle) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (shoulder).
Cornerback Robert Alford (ankle) was upgraded to full practice.
NO LONDON IN THE CARDS
The NFL officially announced the three London matchups for the 2014 season, and the Cardinals – who could have been an opponent for the Oakland Raiders – were not one of them. The Dolphins will play the Raiders, while the Cowboys will play the Jaguars and the Lions play the Falcons.
The news did not bother Fitzgerald.
"I've been to London plenty of times," Fitzgerald said. "I'd rather go there on a tourist trip."
CARDS-FALCONS OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT
The game Sunday is officially a sellout, the 79th straight game the team has sold out at University of Phoenix Stadium. With the sellout, the game will air on local TV, on Fox.