- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Larry Fitzgerald was quick to rebut a tweet by his father criticizing the Arizona Cardinals organization after the eight-time Pro Bowl receiver caught just one pass in the team’s 18-17 season-opening victory over San Diego.

Larry Fitzgerald Sr., a reporter for a Minnesota newspaper, said in his tweet, “The world saw on Monday night football the politics and business of football. If it’s been decided that you are not getting the ball, just win.”

Larry Fitzgerald Jr. sent out his own tweet Tuesday night.

“My fathers inflammatory comments don’t reflect my feelings or mood,” the younger Fitzgerald wrote. “We’re 1-0 & working tirelessly to be 2-0 this week that’s my only concern.”

On Thursday, the Cardinals’ all-time leading receiver elaborated, and tried to make light of the situation.

“It’s hard to make news with one catch,” he said. “My dad seemed to find a way to do it.”

Actually, when Fitzgerald makes only one catch, it is news. For most of the past decade, he has been the go-to guy for Arizona.

But when coach Bruce Arians took over last year, he moved Fitzgerald into the slot and put Michael Floyd at the wideout spot. Now Floyd is catching those deep passes that used to go to Fitzgerald. The addition of speedsters John Brown and Ted Ginn Jr., as well as tight end John Carlson and the emergence of running back Andre Ellington, further diminishes Fitzgerald’s role, at least it did in the opener.

Arians insists that his system does not target specific receivers but leaves it to quarterback Carson Palmer to throw to whoever is open. But Fitzgerald said that because of the game plan he knew he wouldn’t have a big role against the Chargers.

His father has chimed in with criticism in the past.

“It’s not my first time,” the younger Fitzgerald said, “and I would assume it probably won’t be my last, either. But like I said, I’m a man and what comes from my mouth comes from my mouth, what comes from other people’s mouths comes from their mouths. If you don’t hear it from the horse’s mouth, it’s not accurate.”

He said he felt he had to send a reply to what his father had said.

“I didn’t want my teammates thinking that was my concern,” Fitzgerald said. “I just wanted to make sure that everybody knew I was fully committed to doing what we needed to do to get a win.”

Fitzgerald had been one of the league’s best at the wideout spot, and he has acknowledged the difficulty of learning a new position. He said it doesn’t matter whether he likes it or not.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I come to work every day and try to prepare the best that I can and get ready for the game, same approach I’ve always taken.”

This could well be the end of his decade-long run in Arizona. His salary cap number for next season is $26 million, and he would almost certainly have to take a pay cut to return, if he’s even asked to do so. He might think it’s a good time to move on.

With his fourth-quarter catch Monday night, Fitzgerald barely kept alive his string of catching a pass in 150 consecutive games. The difficult 22-yard reception was a big play in the Cardinals’ 10-play, 91-yard drive for the winning touchdown.

Earlier, as if to show the talent he still possesses, the 31-year-old receiver caught Palmer’s pass with one outstretched hand. But he was out of bounds.

And for one of the few times over the past decade, Fitzgerald wasn’t on the field for the winning touchdown, a five-yard screen pass to Brown.

“It’s no problem. We won,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve been on the field for a lot of winning touchdowns.”

Arians said Fitzgerald had missed practice because of a sore knee.

“We didn’t know if he was even going to play,” Arians said, “but he is tough and came back and taped it up. … I learned my lesson last year not to ask him things to do in a game that you’re not practicing, and it’s not fair to the quarterback, either. There were times when he was not in there on third down. That was due to that.”

Fitzgerald doesn’t expect this lull to continue, at least not this bad.

“I don’t want to go one catch for 16 weeks if that’s what you’re asking me,” he said.

Sixteen catches for a season “would be discouraging,” he said. “That cap number would be REAL big at the end of the year.”

Then he and the reporters surrounding him laughed.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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