GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seven months. Two hundred and twenty days, to be exact, have passed since the Cardinals last played a game.
The waiting ends in 48 more hours.
“It’s been a long, long time since we left the field in San Francisco last year (losing the season finale 27-13),” Larry Fitzgerald said Wednesday. “Guys are eager and ready to get out there and play. We want to showcase our ability.”
And yes, it may only be a preseason game, but just don’t tell that to the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.
“It wouldn’t matter if we had won the Super Bowl last year; it’s important to go out there and play well,” he said. “I don’t think you’re ever too good or in a place where you don’t have to go out there and put on your best when we step on the field. This is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business. Obviously, we fell short of expectations last year. This is the first time we get to go out and put something good on tape. We’re looking forward to doing that.”
The Cardinals did not have much good tape last year, finishing 5-11 after a 4-0 start in what proved to be Ken Whisnhunt’s final season as head coach.
But now they begin the Bruce Arians era, which opens Friday in Green Bay.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Fitzgerald said of the game against the defending NFC North Division champion Packers. “What’s important is going out there and playing fast, making sure that mentally we’re sharp. We’re executing what we need to do. We’re catching the football. We’re running the right routes, adjusting on their blitzes.”
Because so much time has passed, Fitzgerald equated the first preseason game to starting over, a chance to knock some of the rust off.
He and the starters are not expected to be on the field long, about 15 plays according to Arians.
So, then how much can Fitzgerald and the first team offense gain from what will likely be only two series?
“A lot,” he said. “This is an intricate offense. There’s a lot of things that are expected of you on every single snap, from blocking to adjustments to route recognition. Coach Arians puts a lot of responsibility on his players. In 15 plays, you can be exposed out there in 15 plays. We want to make sure that everybody is on the right page, we’re clicking and we’re executing.”
There is one other thing Fitzgerald added.
“The most important thing in preseason is to keep your guys healthy and making sure we have our full arsenal come Week 1.”