GM: Larry Fitzgerald to play vs. Giants; Zane Gonzalez still Cardinals’ kicker
Larry Fitzgerald, or what’s left of him after losing nine pounds due to a bout with the coronavirus, didn’t know whether he would play Sunday against the New York Giants (5-7). That was up to Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, the receiver said.
It looked all clear, however, since Fitzgerald said he felt good as ever. He had returned to practice after coming off the COVID-19 reserve earlier in the week and didn’t appear on Thursday’s injury report.
General manager Steve Keim confirmed Friday on Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf that Fitzgerald would play Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“Yes, he will. I will tell you what: We got him back in the building this week, and it was a great shot of energy in the arm,” Keim said. “The energy and enthusiasm and the excitement to have Larry back, you could tell … how infectious that was. It’s just a different feel this week in the building.
“There’s never been a time he hasn’t been here when I’ve been here. It just felt awkward and weird when Larry wasn’t in the building. To have him back, it’s just sort of a calming feeling, so to speak.”
The 37-year-old Fitzgerald missed the last two games, both losses, after testing positive for coronavirus on Thanksgiving.
As he returns, he still has the third-most receiving yards (336) and second-most receptions (43) on the Cardinals (6-6).
Sticking with Gonzalez
Four days after Kingsbury left the door open for the Cardinals to replace starting kicker Zane Gonzalez, Keim said that Gonzalez will remain Arizona’s man against New York.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the team hasn’t looked at other options.
It’s that better options, for the time being, aren’t easy to find.
“I know people have questioned Zane, but Zane’s got a lot of talent,” Keim said. “When you’re in these positions, there are 31 others kickers in the National Football League and a handful of guys out there available who have kicked before. When you make changes like that, you have to be 100% confident, in my opinion, that that player is a significant upgrade to just switch guys around and move people.
“I think Zane will work through the tough times, facing adversity, and that’s a tough position. Missing kicks is certainly a thing that weighs on those guys and gets in their heads. We’d have to find somebody better and be confident in that to replace Zane.”
Arizona does have 15-year veteran Mike Nugent on the practice squad, but he was signed as depth in the case of coronavirus, Keim said earlier in the year.
Gonzalez has missed four field goals in the past five games, and Kingsbury said on Monday after a 38-28 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that the kicker position would be discussed between Keim and him this week.
Gonzalez is 16-of-22 on field goals this year with all of his misses from more than 40 yards out.