ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals coach: Learning to play inside will help Larry Fitzgerald

Oct 21, 2013, 10:58 PM | Updated: 10:58 pm

LISTEN: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals head coach

Larry Fitzgerald is having another down season.

The seven-time Pro Bowler was expected to have a resurgence with quarterback Carson Palmer throwing passes and offensive guru Bruce Arians calling plays, but thus far he has tallied just 32 receptions for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

Long regarded as one of the best receivers in the NFL, he ranks 30th in the league in both receptions and yards, and is just 15th among wideouts in touchdowns.

Explanations for his struggles are varied, with some blaming Palmer and others pointing to the receiver’s balky hamstring. Former Cardinals QB Kurt Warner told Arizona Sports 620’s Bickley with Marotta he thinks Arians’ scheme — or, more specifically, the coach’s desire to have Fitzgerald learn to play as an inside receiver — is contributing to his former teammate’s problems.

“I think one of the problems is they’re putting him inside so much that he loses some of what makes him great and what makes him great is getting in those one-on-one situations on the edge, using that big body, really stretching the field and getting those big chunks,” Warner said. “A lot of times he’s getting stuck in the underneath part of the mix.”

A guest of the same show Monday afternoon, Arians said Fitzgerald is going to have to figure out how to succeed with his expanded role.

“If he wants to continue his career,” Arians said. “He played two weeks ago, strictly at outside, and had his worst game since we’ve been here this year with mental errors.

“That said, he’s got to learn to play it, and he’s doing a pretty good job in there.”

Arians said Fitzgerald’s injury has hampered his ability to get open on the outside, and added that his star player is probably around 80-percent healthy as of right now.

“Hopefully getting better, closer to 100 (percent) by the weekend.”

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