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Fitzgerald sits out practice, uncertain for Saints

September 18, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Larry Fitzgerald sat out practice with his ailing hamstring on Wednesday and his status is uncertain for the Arizona Cardinals’ game Sunday at New Orleans.

“I want him resting today. I do not want him aggravating that thing again,” coach Bruce Arians said before practice. “We’ll take that day to day. He wants to practice, and I’m not letting him.”

There is a good possibility that Fitzgerald won’t try to practice until Friday.

Asked if he had a rule about players having to practice at some point during the week before being allowed to play in the game, Arians said “that totally depends on the player.”

“You better have a resume,” the coach said. “We fortunately have one that has a pretty good resume.”

The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has missed only four games in his nine-plus NFL seasons.

Fitzgerald did not talk to reporters on Wednesday.

On the positive side of the injury front, Arizona starting tight end Rob Housler practiced for the first time in the regular season. He missed the first two games with a left high ankle sprain.

Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall did not practice because of a toe injury. Second-round draft pick Kevin Minter also has a hamstring injury and is doubtful for Sunday, Arians said. Minter, an inside linebacker, has played only on special teams the first two games.

Fitzgerald injured the hamstring a week ago in practice and was limited in workouts all last week. He decided to play in last Sunday’s home opener against Detroit but was unable to finish the game. Fitzgerald stood on the sidelines and watched Arizona’s decisive late drive in a 25-21 victory.

Accomplishing the winning drive without Fitzgerald was a confidence boost for the offense, Arians said, proving to the players that the phrase “next man up” is no mere football cliche.

“It’s real,” he said. “It’s going to happen again. Somebody else is going to get hurt. We’re not going to play with the same 22 guys, and it’s going to happen during a ball game, and that guy has to be ready.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer acknowledged that his job gets more difficult without Fitzgerald.

“I’m not even thinking about it. I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Palmer said. “But anytime you lose one of your playmakers, especially a player of his caliber, it makes it more difficult on the entire team. There are a handful of balls and catches or plays that he’ll make and you know that he’ll make week in and week out.”

It helps that three of the remaining wide receivers — Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and Kerry Taylor — can play all three receiver spots, and rookie Jaron Brown can play two, Arians said.

“That’s the beauty of interchangeable parts,” he said, “when you train those guys all spring and all training camp to play three positions.”

Floyd said that the players know they have to step up and make plays when someone goes down, and in this case the casualty is one of the best receivers in the game.

“It makes it a lot easier, just making sure you know what you’re doing out there on the field,” he said, “and knowing every single position when a play is called you can get in that role and make a play for us.”


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


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