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Victories, Not Catches Or Yards, On Larry Fitzgerald's Mind

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had just two catches last week against the Bears.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had just two catches last week against the Bears.

Larry Fitzgerald had two catches last weekend against the Bears, and like he did after the game, the Pro Bowl wide receiver all but shrugged it off Thursday as well.

“There’s one receiver in the history of the game that’s got more yards and more catches than me,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t need any more yards or catches. The only reason I am here is to win.”

Fitz knows Jerry Rice sits atop that list. (He also knows he still needs 80 receptions to surpass Tony Gonzalez for second-most catches and 277 yards to surpass Terrell Owens for No. 2 in yards). Numbers, while important to Fitz, aren’t the priority in Year 15 of his career -- even though a case can be made that the Cardinals have a better chance of winning if he is more involved.

“I just want to be a successful team, playing for something in December,” Fitzgerald said. “How many catches I have is inconsequential. My legacy is pretty much what it is.”

Fitzgerald said his hamstring is fine, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy didn’t see the injury as impacting Fitzgerald’s game against Chicago.

“We had a certain plan of what we were trying to do offensively, and certain progressions are going to take the ball a certain way, to a certain player,” McCoy said.

Fitzgerald, who has 12 catches – tied with Christian Kirk for the team lead – for 113 yards in three games, now must get familiar with another new quarterback as rookie Josh Rosen takes over. Rosen will become the 19th quarterback to complete a pass to Fitzgerald in his career.

“I want him to be familiar with me and obviously I need to be familiar with my quarterback,” Fitzgerald said. “But the plays are the plays. I know where I need to be, he knows where the ball needs to be, based on the coverages. Telling him, ‘Throw it here,’ that’s not helping him at all. Let him go ahead, go through his progressions, and when he does look your way, you make the play for him.”

ROUGHING-THE-PASSER CALLS ENCOURAGES TEACHING MOMENT

Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb took some time Wednesday to show his players some video clips of players around the league and how the Cardinals want to “attack the ball” when it comes to going after the quarterback – especially in light of the new emphasis on roughing-the-passer penalties.

“It’s not so much coming from the blind side, it’s coming from the front side where the quarterback is getting dumped and the body weight falling on them,” Holcomb said. “We try to emphasize a little different technique, so when you are facing the quarterback, go after the ball. If you go after the ball, hopefully we get the strip-sack and that keeps the weight off of the quarterback.”

The Cardinals have been called for three roughing penalties this season: Safety Antoine Bethea, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and defensive end Markus Golden each had one, none for the bodyweight issue. Interestingly, defensive end Benson Mayowa was shown in an NFL instructional video Thursday about how a player cannot use his bodyweight to fall on a quarterback – except Mayowa was not flagged on the play, which was a sack on Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

HOLCOMB EVALUATES BUCANNON

Holcomb was asked what specifically is keeping linebacker Deone Bucannon from getting more defensive snaps.

“It’s a new system, he’s learning the system,” Holcomb said. “There’s an element of technique that goes into playing the position in this system, and he’s working on it every day. He’s getting better, he wants to do it, he’s trying to do it.

“We want him to get on the field and do those things for us. He’s a dynamic player … but at the same time, within the structure of our defense, there is a certain amount of discipline that has to occur. We talk about gap integrity, gap discipline, all those things. You’ve got to do your ‘1-11’ and be responsible for your gap.”

NKEMDICHE RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Nkemdiche (knee) and Fitzgerald (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, while tackle Andre Smith (elbow) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (elbow) remained out.

Joining Nkemdiche and Fitzgerald as limited were quarterback Sam Bradford (pectoral), tackle Korey Cunningham (thumb), Golden (knee), tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles), Mayowa (ankle) and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (toe).

For the Seahawks, guard Ethan Pocic (ankle), running back C.J. Prosise (abdomen), defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle), defensive end Dion Jordan (hip) and linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) didn’t practice. Limited were wide receiver Doug Baldwin (knee), safety Delano Hill (hamstring), running back Chris Carson (hip), center Joey Hunt (hip), defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (foot) and guard D.J. Fluker (knee).

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