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Larry Fitzgerald Primed To Continue Resurgence

Notes: Star wideout hasn't lost his skills; stingy second-half defense; black jerseys Sunday

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Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald celebrates his second touchdown against the 49ers with wideout Jaron Brown.


Larry Fitzgerald is affectionately called Old Man Larry by his teammates these days, as they are quick to remind the Cardinals wideout he's among the elder statesmen in the locker room.

Through three games, though, not even a young Fitzgerald had amassed these types of numbers: 23 catches, 333 yards and a league-leading five touchdowns. The Cardinals' offense has been among the NFL's most potent during the team's undefeated start, and Fitzgerald has been the headliner.

That may not have even needed mentioning a half-decade ago, but Fitzgerald failed to amass 1,000 receiving yards in any of the previous three seasons. He's well on his way to surpassing that mark in 2015, and quarterback Carson Palmer sees plenty of production ahead for the veteran pass-catcher.

"I think what gets lost in the shuffle with Larry is that he's only 32," Palmer said. "People act like he is 36. He has been playing at a high level for such a long time and you feel like he is an older player. At 32, I think he is in his prime. He looks like he's in his prime with how he's playing. He's asked to do something completely different than what he was doing in 2008, 2009, but I don't think he has a ton of tread (gone from) the tires yet. He has a lot left."

Coach Bruce Arians moved Fitzgerald into the slot when he arrived in 2013, and a pair of subsequent down seasons brought questions as to whether Fitzgerald's prolific career was winding down. Arians never had those thoughts, as he pegged the decline in production on injuries, not an erosion of skills.

"When he was out here in the spring and the spring before, he was flying around like he is now," Arians said. "Two years ago it was double hamstrings, and last year it was the MCLs."

On Thursday, Fitzgerald deflected the praise for his early-season performance.

"I've got the best play-caller in the business in coach Arians, and I've got, I feel, the best quarterback playing at the highest level of the game," Fitzgerald said. "Anybody with the opportunities I would have had in these first three games was going to do the same thing. I'm blessed to have some guys around me that can really play."

STINGY AGAIN AFTER THE HALF

Todd

Bowles was lauded for his ability to make halftime adjustments as the Cardinals' defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. That ability to diagnose on the fly was a possible concern with rookie James Bettcher taking over. So far, the results have been impressive.

The Cardinals have not allowed a touchdown and have given up only 12 points in the second half this season. The team has outscored its opponents by 41 points after the break. Bettcher said it's not just him who makes adjustments at intermission.

"Halftime adjustments are always a group effort," Bettcher said. "Our players understanding what they're getting attacked with and how they're getting attacked. We have really smart guys that understand that. I think it's the coaching staff, the defensive staff, communicating with their players. And my job is to make sure the communication happens between every position."

BACK IN BLACK JERSEYS

The Cardinals will wear their black alternate jerseys against the Rams. NFL teams are allowed to wear an alternate jersey a maximum of two times per season.

The last time the Cardinals wore black was Week 3 of the 2014 when they defeated the 49ers, 23-14. They are 5-4 overall and 3-0 under Arians in the jerseys.

ELLINGTON, IUPATI STILL LIMITED

Running back Andre Ellington (knee) and guard Mike Iupati (knee) were listed as limited participants at practice for a second straight day, as was wide receiver John Brown (shoulder). Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (quadriceps) was added to the injury report as a limited participant, while linebacker Alex Okafor (shoulder) was upgraded to a full participant. Wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) did not practice.

For the Rams, defensive end Eugene Sims (knee), safety Maurice Alexander (groin) and running back Chase Reynolds (knee) didn't practice. Wide receiver Kenny Britt (shoulder) was limited.

Images of Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu's interception return for a touchdown



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