Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t know yet what his future holds, or if there will be seasons for him beyond this, his 15th in the NFL.
But given that the quirks of the NFL schedule mean that the earliest the Cardinals could return to Minnesota to play a game would be the 2022 season, Sunday’s road trip to Minnesota will likely be the last time Fitzgerald will play in his home state.
Not that he’s thinking much about it.
“I’ll be able to play there for the rest of my life – I live up there in the summertime,” Fitzgerald said with a smile.
Fitzgerald insisted it’s just another game for him. It’s the sixth time he’s played in Minnesota, and his ninth game against the Vikings overall. In his career, Fitzgerald has 50 receptions for 673 yards and one touchdown – that coming in his first game against the Vikings in 2006.
The last four meetings with Minnesota, Fitzgerald has been held in check – combining for only 19 catches for 199 yards total. Fitzgerald also goes into this game needing to get on a roll. After making seven catches for 76 yards in the opener, Fitzgerald hasn’t had more than three receptions or 35 yards in any of the four games since. He has yet to score a touchdown this season.
That didn’t stop him from smiling Thursday as he reminisced about growing up in Minnesota.
“I’ve always been a Vikings fan,” Fitzgerald said. “I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t. I pull for them to win when I’m not playing against them. You grow up there, work for the team, get to know people in the organization, that’s just how it is.”
Fitzgerald said his most indelible memory of the years he spent as a ballboy for the Vikings was the 1998 NFC Championship game, in which the Falcons came to Minneapolis and upset the one-loss Vikings. Fitzgerald’s father had told Fitzgerald and his brother Marcus he would take them to the Super Bowl.
“That one still stings,” Fitz admitted.
Another one that stings? The infamous Josh McCown-to-Nate Poole fourth-down touchdown on the final play of the 2003 season finale, a score that allowed the Cardinals to beat the Vikings, knock Minnesota from the playoffs and push the Cardinals from the No. 1 overall pick to No. 3. The Cardinals selected Fitzgerald the following April.
“I was devastated that happened,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to see them get to the playoffs and they got eliminated, and that eliminated the Cardinals from being the No. 1 pick, which I was hoping (to be) too. It was an all-around hurtful weekend.”
REDDICK TO GET ANOTHER START
Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said Haason Reddick will start again alongside Josh Bynes at linebacker, as the Cardinals work through that position.
In five games, Reddick, Deone Bucannon and Gerald Hodges all have taken turns starting next to Bynes and safety Budda Baker, who drops down in the box as the Cardinals use mostly nickel personnel.
“It’s not about who is screwing up or who is not screwing up,” Holcomb said. “We’re just trying to find the right mix of guys. Really, this is a production-based business and at the end of the day, that’s what we are looking for – production.”
IUPATI, SMITH STILL SITTING OUT
Most of the players who sat out Wednesday’s practice were back to work at least in limited form Thursday. The only Cardinals still sidelined were guard Mike Iupati (shoulder) and tackle Andre Smith (hamstring.)
Safety Tre Boston (shoulder), Fitzgerald (hamstring/back), tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles), tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (foot), safety Budda Baker (shoulder), linebacker Josh Bynes (wrist), defensive tackle Corey Peters (elbow) and defensive end Markus Golden (knee) were all limited.
For the Vikings, tackle Riley Reiff (foot), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin), defensive end Everson Griffen (non-injury related) and defensive end Tashawn Bower (ankle) did not practice.
Images of past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings