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Larry Fitzgerald Recalls Long Carolina Flight

Notes: Peterson says he's OK while Veldheer works with cast; Watching Johnson snaps


Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sits on the bench during the NFC Championship loss last January.

Larry Fitzgerald has been around the world. He's also been to Carolina more than once.

After January's trip, the Pro Bowl wide receiver said Thursday, there is no comparison.

"I've been Johannesburg straight (through), 18-hour flight," Fitzgerald said. "I've been to Thailand, that's like a 17-hour flight. But the flight from Carolina back to Phoenix last year was the longest flight I've ever been on before and that was only about four hours.

"Those types of things, you don't forget."

The runaway 49-15 NFC Championship loss to the Panthers hit Fitzgerald that much more than others. Chasing the one thing he does not yet have – a Super Bowl title – Fitzgerald was caught on the NFL Films/Amazon series "All or Nothing" devastated in the locker room after, crushed at being so close.

At first, Fitzgerald tried to deflect a question about the moment. But then, acknowledging the pain, Fitzgerald emphasized the mountain the Cardinals face trying to return to the same spot.

"It was my 12th season (and) we were two games away from realizing your ultimate dream," Fitzgerald said. "It hurt, and I wasn't the only one hurting. Everyone in that locker room was disheartened by that outcome and the way we performed on that stage.

"But that was last year. There is nothing we can do about that, we just have to fight and scratch and try and get in the playoffs this year because we have our work cut out for us."

Fitzgerald is doing his part. With injuries throwing John Brown's season out of whack and Michael Floyd struggling with any kind of consistency, Fitzgerald has once again been the Cardinals' rock at wide receiver. He leads the team with 46 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns after seven games.

But the Cards aren't where they want to be. The Panthers are worse, at 1-5 nowhere near the team that steamrolled their way to the Super Bowl last season – and both are exhibits of why Fitzgerald was so crushed on that chilly night in Charlotte.

"We're in no position to look at someone else's record and say, 'What's wrong with them?' " Fitzgerald said. "There are a lot of holes in our boat that we need to make sure we are plugging."


Both cornerback Patrick Peterson (ribs) and left tackle Jared Veldheer (finger) both returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. Peterson said he'd be fine to play Sunday. Veldheer sounded more cautious, although offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Veldheer "should be fine."

Veldheer said the finger fracture happened sometime in the second quarter, so the tackle – who played all 95 Cardinals snaps – dealt

with it during the game. Veldheer also said he had a fracture in a knuckle on his right hand for half the season last year and was OK.

"It's something I'm working through during the week and seeing how it is," Veldheer said.

Peterson said a couple of days of rest has helped him as he prepares for a day where he will be mostly shadowing wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

"The most challenging thing about it is trusting it will be OK in a game when I have to press," Peterson said.

Still not practicing were wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring), tight end Darren Fells (ankle), defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) and linebacker Alex Okafor (calf). Coach Bruce Arians already said Okafor won't play.

Joining Peterson and Veldheer as limited were quarterback Carson Palmer (hamstring), wide receiver John Brown (sickle-cell issue), cornerback Justin Bethel (foot), cornerback Marcus Cooper (foot) and linebacker Gabe Martin (knee).

For the Panthers, defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle), tackle Michael Oher (concussion) and cornerback Teddy Williams (knee) did not practice. Cornerback James Bradberry (foot) was limited.


Goodwin was talking about the skills of running back David Johnson when he noted Johnson's heavy workload so far this season.

"He's a guy who, moving forward, we have to monitor so we don't burn the wheels off of him," Goodwin said.

Johnson leads the NFL with 174 touches this season (Tennessee's DeMarco Murray is second at 166). He is coming off a 41-touch game against Seattle. But Goodwin said Johnson takes himself out when he is tired, something Johnson and running backs coach Stump Mitchell can adjust in a game.

"When B.A. is calling a game he's not thinking about who's in there," Goodwin said. "He's calling plays based on what the situation demands or needs. But David has done a great job when he's hit the wall, he taps out and comes to the sideline."

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