Fitzgerald reflects on quarterbacks, receivers: ‘I like where we are’
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A new head coach, a new group of quarterbacks and a new crop of rookies hungry for playing time. The Arizona Cardinals have high expectations for the 2018 NFL season, particularly veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
“I like the way we’ve done in our brief offseason and in our one week of practice thus far. I like where we are,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a long way to go, a lot of work to put forth.”
After finishing third in the NFC West with a mediocre 8-8 record, coach Bruce Arians retired and was replaced by defensive guru Steve Wilks. Sam Bradford signed a one-year $20 million deal, and the Cardinals used their first-round draft pick on UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
Along with Rosen and Bradford, veteran quarterback Mike Glennon signed with the Cardinals in March, two days after being cut by the Chicago Bears.
Fitzgerald, who led the Cardinals in 2017 with 109 receptions, 1,156 yards and six touchdowns, spoke highly of all three quarterbacks.
“They all are really good guys first of all,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that makes it so much easier to go to work when you’re playing with guys with that character.”
Wilks expressed his confidence in the veteran Bradford early in Cardinals training camp.
“I don’t waver that Sam is our starter. It is his job to lose,” Wilks said when addressing the media on July 28.
A week into training camp, however, Rosen has been playing with the first and second team and impressing the Cardinals’ accomplished receiver.
“He’s got a lot of potential, a lot of ability and just everything that you would ever invision you would want your first-round quarterback to have,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a learning process and every single day, he continues to check the box at getting better and doing what he needs to do to prepare himself. I love to see hard work in young guys like that.”
The 34-year-old wide receiver, who enters his 15th season with the Cardinals, will be working alongside many young guys, particularly in the receiving corps.
The Cardinals allowed John Brown and Jaron Brown, who had spent four and five years, respectively, with the team to walk in free agency. The team used their second-round pick on Scottsdale native Christian Kirk and acquired undrafted free agency Trent Sherfield from Vanderbilt.
With returning Cardinals receivers J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams and former Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler, the competition for the Nos. 2 and 3 spots is apparent.
“I wouldn’t say it’s any uncertainty,” Fitzgerald said on the wide receiving corps. “I would say it’s more so excitement because a lot of guys haven’t had the opportunity to shine and have their time in the league. It’s great to see them fighting and working so hard to create the opportunities for themselves.”
For Fitzgerald, who totaled over 100 receptions in each of his last three seasons, returning for his 15th year as an Arizona Cardinals player is something he doesn’t overlook.
“I’m very proud and honored that I could play in the same place for 15 years,” Fitzgerald said. “It doesn’t happen too often. I don’t take it for granted. I know it’s a commitment from the team. It’s a commitment from the player.”