Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (right) with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in Dallas in 2014.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten align closely in the football record books.
Fitzgerald has more receiving yards than anyone in Cardinals history, while Witten moved past Michael Irvin atop the Cowboys' list earlier this season. Fitzgerald is No. 3 on the NFL's career receptions list with 1,134, while Witten is fourth at 1,106.
But that's not the first thing that comes to mind for either of them when the other is brought up.
Fitzgerald and Witten first met early in their careers and quickly realized their personalities jived. They crossed paths again at Pro Bowls through the years, and really connected in 2013, when they were both nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for their humanitarian work.
"When you're so similar, with the way we are, it's easy to hit that off in that relationship," Witten said. "One of the things that makes this league what it's all about is there's just such a healthy respect for the guys on the other side, and I think Larry embodies that for me as much as anybody I get a chance to go against."
Fitzgerald talked Thursday about Witten's toughness and the success he's found in Dallas, but it circled back to his personality.
"The first thing I think about Jason is his character, what he stands for," Fitzgerald said. "He's just a special man. I think any young person in this league would look to him as somebody that you want to model your career after, professionally and personally."
While the mutual respect is high, each player hopes to push his team over the top in a critical matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Fitzgerald, 34, has started 2017 slowly with nine catches for 95 yards in two games, but is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in receptions. Witten, 35, leads the league with 17 catches this year for 156 yards and two scores.
While genetic gifts have helped both maintain long and fruitful careers, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thinks something else is at work.
"I believe in karma, and when you treat people like those two do, good things happen to you," Arians said.
DEONE BUCANNON CLOSE TO RETURN
Money linebacker Deone Bucannon practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday and is zeroing in on his season debut after offseason ankle surgery.
"He's getting real close," Arians said. "He looked good today. He was flying around."
Arians said Bucannon could be on a snap count if he is available against Dallas. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs) missed the Colts game but practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday and seems on track to play Monday.
"He was slamming it up in there pretty good today," Arians said. "I pulled him out. I just didn't want him to have a setback, because he was going after it."
Guard Mike Iupati (triceps), linebacker Karlos Dansby (hip), and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (hamstring) were also limited on Thursday. Wide receiver John Brown (quadriceps) and left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) did not practice.
For the Cowboys, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring), cornerback Nolan Carroll (concussion), linebacker Anthony Hitchens (knee) and defensive tackle Stephen Paea (knee) didn't practice. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick (hand) was limited.
MORE WORK FOR CHRIS JOHNSON
Running back Chris Johnson will have an increased role against the Cowboys, Arians said Thursday. Johnson had a team-high 11 carries for 44 yards last week against the Colts, giving the running game a jolt after it struggled early.
"Chris Johnson's carries, right now, will be up," Arians said.
Arians said if Johnson were to be officially named the starter, it would be later this week. Kerwynn Williams started last week, with Andre Ellington the running back in passing situations.
Images from past games between the Cardinals and Cowboys