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Seahawks’ Sherman lists Fitzgerald as one of toughest receivers he’s covered

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs the ball as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Larry Fitzgerald is now in his 13th NFL season, and over his tenure in the NFL has established a reputation as being one of the very best at his position.

In 194 games, he has caught 1,074 passes for 13,920 yards and 103 touchdowns — and then, of course, there are his playoff numbers.

Rarely has there been a defensive back Fitzgerald has not gotten the better of, and that includes the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.

An elite player in his own right, Sherman has been in the league since 2011, and gotten an up-close look at Fitzgerald and what he is able to do on the football field. Because of that, Sherman, in a piece for The Player’s Tribune, listed the Cardinals great as one of the toughest receivers he has ever covered.

Sherman notes the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Fitzgerald is a physical receiver who can do it all on the field and has “a keen understanding of everything that’s happening on the field around him,” as well as a knack for timing and how everything is supposed to line up.

More than anything, Larry relies on his unique feel for the game. He has a keen understanding of everything that’s happening on the field around him, and he has an incredible feel for timing, and how everything is supposed to line up.

Fitzgerald entered the NFL as a player who lined up on the outside and ran a lot of deeper routes, but lately has been more of a slot receiver who has done his damage in the middle of the field. He in the past has credited his learning multiple roles as a reason for his sustained success.

Sherman also praised Fitzgerald’s ability to time the quarterback’s drop, the route and the coverage the defense is in.

And at the line of scrimmage, he has a plethora of tricks and moves — head-fakes and stuff like that — that help him get separation. If he gets a lot of separation quickly, he needs to adjust his route a little so as to not throw off the timing of the play. Same for if he gets jammed. Timing is everything.

Fitzgerald and Sherman have squared off quite a bit over the last handful of seasons, and each can claim victory in some of the meetings. Besides catching (or not catching) the ball, in 2013 Fitzgerald leveled Sherman with a block, though this season the defensive back returned the favor on a ball thrown to No. 11.

That’s football, and Sherman clearly has respect for his division rival.

Now, he’s a more veteran player, and he does a lot of his damage within the route instead of just at the line or out of his breaks. A subtle jab, a chicken-wing kind of push-off — or if he gets caught in a jam, he’s veteran enough to lock the corner’s arm in like an arm bar and just look for a flag.

And if none of that works, and somebody else gets the ball, he’ll just do this:

 

Other receivers Sherman listed were the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., the Falcons’ Julio Jones, the Jets’ Brandon Marshall, the Steelers’ A.J. Green and Antonio Brown, as well as his Seattle teammate, Doug Baldwin.

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