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Larry Fitzgerald: "I Want To Be Out There"

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Notebook: Playing on hands team is honor for receiver; Peterson and Seattle's punts

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was back at practice Thursday and expects to play Sunday.

Larry Fitzgerald was back at practice Thursday, practicing on a limited basis after suffering a concussion Sunday in Tennessee – and the very first drill he took part in was recovering an onside kick as part of the “hands” unit.

The very same play on which he got hurt against the Titans.

But Fitzgerald said he wasn’t leery of staying on the “hands” team going forward, calling it a “privilege.”

“It’s an honor to go and close the game out,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s like Mariano Rivera coming out on the mound. You’re out there to close it out. That’s what our job is.”

Fitzgerald still must pass one last test Friday before he will be cleared to play this week, but the veteran wide receiver is confident he will be active against the Seahawks in Seattle Sunday. He said he hasn’t had any setbacks that would make him think he couldn’t play.

“This is my first (concussion), uncharted territory for me,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a serious issue, but I want to be out there and play. I will do everything I can to protect myself and my brain, but this is football, a tough sport played by tough men. It’s my job.”

Fitzgerald has played in 104 straight games, including the Cardinals’ six playoff games during his career. He hadn’t practiced Wednesday but did some side work with athletic trainer Chad Cook and had no problems. He was told he could try to ramp it up Thursday and had no ill effects.

Fitzgerald saw a video of the concussion-causing hit for the first time Thursday. He said he didn’t think the hit by Titans running back Jackie Battle was excessive, just that he wasn’t prepared for it.

“In a game offensively, I see (Seattle safety) Earl Thomas and I know I’m running a skinny (route), I know where he is at so I can brace myself for the collision and catch the football,” Fitzgerald said. “In that situation, I have no idea where the guy is coming from. I can’t brace myself. I’m in a vulnerable position. He caught me. Hey, Muhammad Ali got caught a couple of times too.”

Yet Fitzgerald was clear he didn’t see the need to change the rule on an onside kick and noted it’s the first time he’s absorbed such a hit in a decade of playing on the onsides team in the NFL. He also admitted there is “concern” with suffering a concussion with the subject such a hot topic around the NFL these days.

“But I’m like anybody else -- I want to do my job and have a good time and play and win and play while I have the opportunity,” Fitzgerald said. “There is no telling how long I will be able to play this game, how long any of us can play this game or live life. I have the opportunity to do something I truly love and that’s how I think about it.

“I understand the ramifications and seen the studies and seen the guys who have dealt with issues. I am aware of all that.”

PETERSON, THE SEAHAWKS AND A PUNTING RECORD

The Seahawks are closing in on a possible NFL record for fewest punt return yards in a season, giving up only 19 thus far this season. Cardinals punt return man Patrick Peterson said there was a simple explanation.

“First of all because they punt the ball 30 yards,” Peterson said. “It’s hard to return a punt when you punt the ball 30 or 40 yards and they’ve got hang time. But they are playing to their strengths. Obviously they don’t feel comfortable punting a regular ball deep. Their go-to kick is the Aussie ball and it’s only going 35 to 40 yards and it’s pretty hard to return that.”

Peterson had his troubles returning punts in Seattle last season, fumbling one return and muffing another catch. Both turned into two of the Cards’ eight turnovers that day. Whether Peterson gets a chance at redemption remains to be seen.

The record of fewest return yards against is 22, set in a 14-game season by Green Bay in 1967. The lowest total in 16 games was Atlanta’s 49 in 2008. Opponents have fair-caught 24 of 59 Jon Ryan punts. Ryan has averaged 39.1 net yards a punt, which ranks 23rd in the NFL, and his overall average is only 29th in the league.

“That’s why they are so close to that record,” Peterson said. “They are punting the ball where there is a lot of traffic and the return man can’t get up there because he doesn’t want to get hit and fumble the ball, and you have to get everyone out of the way, and they get a lucky bounce when it bounces another 15 or 20 yards. A lot goes into it. But they are playing into their punter’s strength. That’s all I can say.”

PALMER, HOUSLER RETURN, BUT FOUR ADDED TO REPORT

Fitzgerald was upgraded to limited as was quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle) and tight end Rob Housler (groin). But four new players appeared on the injury report as limited: linebackers Matt Shaughnessy (groin), Karlos Dansby (foot), Dontay Moch (hamstring) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (finger).

Safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) remained sidelined.

For the Seahawks, guard JR Sweezy (concussion) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (ankle) were added to the list as did not practice, and running back Robert Turbin (groin) was added as limited. Receiver Percy Harvin (hip) remained sidelined, while tight end Zach Miller (ribs) was limited.

Safety Kam Chancellor (quadriceps), defensive end Chris Clemons and running back Marshawn Lynch (both of whom had days off Wednesday) all practiced full.

 

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