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Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald feeling better, still not 100 percent

TEMPE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald is not used to dealing with injuries.

Sure, he is not unlike most players who have to play with some discomfort throughout the season, as it’s rare for anyone to make it through a full 16 games feeling 100 percent.

But Fitzgerald missed just four games over his first nine seasons, and though he’s dealt with a hamstring injury since Week 3, he has yet to miss a game this season.

Asked about how he’s feeling Thursday, given some extra time to heal following the team’s Thursday night matchup last week, and the Pro Bowler said he’s not quite where he’d like to be.

“But I’m better than I was, and that’s progress,” he said Thursday.

Fitzgerald has caught 32 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns this season, but had just two receptions for 17 yards in the loss to Seattle. The week before he tallied six receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown — which came on a 75-yard catch and run — so it is not as if he is debilitated to the point where he cannot be productive.

He has not — and will not — use the injury as an excuse for not posting the type of stats people expect.

“I’m not one to make excuses, I don’t use that as an excuse at all,” he said. “I’ve got to study harder, I’ve got to run faster, I’ve got to get out of my breaks better.

“I’ve got to do everything at a higher level, higher sense of urgency and be better for Carson and the rest of my team. It’s plain and simple.”

Fitzgerald, who said part of the job description is playing through injury, admitted the extra time between games has helped, as he was able to get off his feet and rest a bit.

But it may take the team’s bye week, which follows Sunday’s tilt with Atlanta, before the receiver is finally back to normal. Until then, he’ll just have to deal with the reality that faces him.

“It is what it is,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously I would love to be able to put it behind me once and for all and be able to move forward and focus on doing what I need to do on the field to help my team win.”

So you can expect to see Fitzgerald, who was a full participant in practice for the second straight day this week, to take the field Sunday when the Cardinals host the Falcons.

And while simply playing Atlanta will not be enough to heal Fitzgerald’s hamstring, it may help to right a passing attack that has struggled to get going. The Falcons rank near the bottom of most passing defense statistics, including 25th in completion percentage and touchdowns allowed and 26th in yards per attempt. They are 25th in sacks and have intercepted just three passes.

As a whole, quarterbacks have a rating of 104.7 against them, which would seem to make this a perfect opportunity for the Cardinals to score some points. According to Fitzgerald, they’re going to have to.

“It wouldn’t matter if we were playing against Atlanta or ASU or Brophy,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to get it going, and we need to get it going at a good clip.”