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Larry Fitzgerald settles in with Cardinals’ new leadership, teammates

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) takes the field prior to an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver

Larry Fitzgerald’s offseason included a big decision and miles of travel across the world.

The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver’s choice to return for his 15th NFL season put him in position to act as a bridge into a future. That said, Fitzgerald is living in the moment — he’s not worried about who becomes the quarterback of the future or how recently-waived receiver Dez Bryant might or might not fit into the Cardinals’ plans.

The present is all that matters.

First-year coach Steve Wilks, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterback Sam Bradford are the known pieces to that present, and Fitzgerald has confidence in all of them.

Joining Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Monday morning, Fitzgerald spoke on a series of topics while promoting his eighth annual Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Game on Saturday at Salt River Fields.

On playing under first-year offensive coordinator Mike McCoy:

“I know that he did an unbelievable job with the (teams) he’s been at. The terminology is completely different to what we’re accustomed to — we have to all get acclimated with that. He’s a great communicator. Every day in the classroom, we have questions, pop-quizzes. He brings you up on the stage and holds you accountable for knowing your assignments.

“I really enjoy just his personality, first and foremost. He’s a football guy through and through, and demanding in terms of what he expects his players to know. He wants to play an up-tempo game offensively.”

On how he succeeds with so many quarterbacks over his career: 

“What I think helps me with quarterbacks is — most important thing about being a wide receiver is catching the football. That’s one of my strengths, no matter if my speed or quickness is diminished. If the ball is around me, I’m going to catch it. I think that gives me a comfort. I’m big, I’m strong, so I can create the separation. That’s another thing: quarterbacks don’t like to throw into really tight windows.

“I think that’s really why quarterbacks trust me and throw it to me is those characteristics.”

On getting to know Bradford, who Arizona signed to replace retired starting quarterback Carson Palmer:

“Anywhere Sam has gone — from Philadelphia to Minnesota to when he played in St. Louis — the guy is a 10-point accurate passer. When he’s in a groove, you go back and watch the Monday Night Football game last year (in which the former Vikings QB completed 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns) … when he completely torched the New Orleans Saints in the opening week, that’s Sam Bradford in a nutshell.”

On playing under Wilks:

“He’s in tune with every aspect of what’s going on. I mean, he knows the lunch ladies’ names. He’s one of those kind of people — everything that’s going on in that building, he’s got a pulse for. That’s a skill. That’s a real skill. I’m very fortunate that (Cardinals president) Michael Bidwill went through the process of hiring him.”

On if Fitzgerald might help recruit receiver Dez Bryant, who was just waived by the Dallas Cowboys:

“I don’t really get too involved. I try to stay out of that process. Players should play. Management should do what they do. … He wants to play the Cowboys twice a year.

“You saw what he was able to do in Dallas over the years. I think he’s still got a lot of juice left in the tank.”

On if he visits with potential draft picks like quarterback Baker Mayfield, who will reportedly visit the Cardinals this week:

“I don’t think it’s really my place. He’s the future and I’m kind of the old guard. That’s more (GM) Steve Keim and Coach Wilks and David Johnson. I’m more so just concerned about what we can do this year.

“… I don’t even buy green bananas, I don’t even have time.”

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