Dealing Cards: Larry Fitzgerald’s definitive in that he does not know what he’ll do
Dec 21, 2016, 4:57 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2016, 11:21 am
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
TEMPE, Ariz. — For Larry Fitzgerald, all this talk about potential retirement would be much ado about nothing save for one simple fact.
“We’re not making the playoffs and there’s nothing else to talk about, I guess,” he said Wednesday.
That’s why Fitzgerald’s comments, both after last Sunday’s game when he said “we’ll see what goes on this offseason” and then Monday night, when he said he was not contemplating retirement but noted he was “uncertain what I’m going to do moving forward” garnered so much attention.
Fitzgerald, 33, is under contract for next season, but it would not come as a total shock if he decided to call it a career when this one wraps up.
If he does, then the 10-time Pro Bowler who has been the face of the Cardinals franchise for more than a decade will have already played his final home game for the team. That’s a reality coach Bruce Arians and QB Carson Palmer acknowledged Tuesday, but is still something Fitzgerald would rather pay no heed.
His attention is on the final two games, on the road against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. That would make his future an offseason decision, right?
“I’m just focused on right now,” he said.
Right now, Fitzgerald leads the NFL with 98 receptions, and by the time the season is through could set a new career high for catches.
He said pacing the league in catches would be more gratifying if the Cardinals were preparing for the playoffs as a division champion, adding, “we’ve got two games left so I’ve got to hold people off.”
The Steelers’ Antonio Brown, with 96 catches, is right on Fitgzerald’s tail, while the Patriots’ Julian Edelman and Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., each with 85 receptions, have an outside shot.
But while Fitzgerald is going to try and hold them off, until he makes a decision about his future — one way or another — the questions are likely to persist, despite his effort to try and silence them. The thing is, he just isn’t sure.
“I don’t know what I’m doing next year,” he said. “I don’t know how much more definitive I can be with that.”
The official injury report can be found here, and it shows a light list for both teams. For the Cardinals,both cornerback Marcus Cooper (back/calf) and tackle D.J. Humphries (concussion) missed Wednesday’s practice, while receiver John Brown (illness) and safety Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) were limited.
On Tuesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Humhpries, who suffered the concussion in Miami, was still in the protocol.
David Johnson’s decision of firsts
Not surprisingly, David Johnson was named to his first career Pro Bowl Tuesday.
The league’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 1,138 rushing and 800 receiving, it figures to be the first of many All-Star Game nods for the 25-year-old second-year player.
The question now is if he will actually play in the game, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 29.
Johnson’s wife is due to give birth to the couples’ first child around that date.
“This is my first baby so I definitely want to be there for him,” Johnson said. “Thankfully Michael Bidwill has offered me his plane if I do need to hurry up and get there or get back, he’s offered me that. So I’m very grateful for him.
“But right now, it’s my first kid and I want to be there.”
It’s also Johnson’s first Pro Bowl, though.
“I definitely want to be there, but who knows,” he said. “We’re definitely trying to arrange to where I’m going to go.”
With a laugh, Johnson said he’s been talking to his yet-to-be-born son, letting him know he needs to come out.
Johnson’s quest for 1,000/1,000
Against the Saints, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to record at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his team’s first 14 games in a season.
Now, he’s got his sights set on another milestone.
With 200 receiving yards over the final two games, Johnson would become just the third player in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
Johnson admitted reaching that milestone this season is a tall order, but is still something he is striving for.
“Just because you don’t really think of it as a running back doing that,” he said. “And only two running backs have done that in the NFL. It’s a huge testament to my ability not to just run the ball, but also catch out of the backfield.”
The first player to do it was Roger Craig, who in 1985 for the 49ers ran for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 92 passes for 1,016 yards and six scores. The other is Marshall Faulk, who in 1999 ran for 1,381 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 87 passes for 1,048 yards and five scores.
With 17 total touchdowns, Johnson has already surpassed both players in that category, but will need a monster couple of receiving games to join their ranks in the 1,000/1,000 club.
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin thinks it’s possible, depending on what Arians, the team’s play caller, wants to do.
“He’s going to be doing what he does, and hopefully we can protect long enough to throw him the ball to get close to that record,” Goodwin said. “But David’s capable of taking the ball 80 yards on one play, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Goodwin went on to say he hopes they can get him to the mark, and Johnson’s teammate, Fitzgerald, thinks there’s a chance.
“Any time he touches the football he can break a tackle and go to the house, so I don’t think it’s out of the realm of imagination at all,” he said. “He’s that kind of player.
“You saw it against the Washington Redskins, he took a little, no-nothing bubble screen that’s designed to get 10 yards, he turned that into a 40-yarder. He’s capable of doing it anytime he touches the ball. He’s going to get his touches — what he does with it after the catch, it’s up to us blocking for him and him with his feet.”