It’s a connection that the Cardinals hope to get right sooner rather than later. Last Sunday, however, the two players’ first taste of game action together, the connection was a little weak, though it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Derek Anderson targeted Larry Fitzgerald 15 times, but only completed three passes for 43 yards. Luckily, one of those three was a game winning 21-yard touchdown late in the 4th quarter.
Anderson doesn’t seem to be worried about his timing and chemistry with the Cardinals’ number one receiver. “Oh, we’ll be good,” Anderson remarked. “I know (Larry) is willing to work at it and get to where we need to be,” Anderson continued.
Fitzgerald believes it’s more an issue of rehabbing his still troublesome knee, rather than anything else. “I’ve got to get my body together first,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what is really important. Missing so much time … I think it’s hurt us a little bit. We’re not going to make excuses. This is the NFL and we’ve got to get right quickly.”
Darren Urban reports that Fitzgerald stated he was around 75% healthy for the game against the Rams. In addition, Whisenhunt reported that Fitzgerald’s knee continued to deteriorate as the game wore on, which the head coach attributed to the unforgiving turf of the Edward Jones Dome.
Ken Whisenhunt believes that Fitzgerald’s knee will continue to improve, even as he plays. If that is the case, the rest of it will just be “getting a feel for each other,” Whisenhunt said of Anderson and Fitzgerald. “Some of those plays, had Larry been at full capacity, he would have made, especially that one down in the end zone.”
The play that Whisenhunt is referring to occurred late in the third quarter. Anderson, from shotgun, had Fitzgerald with at least a step and a half on the Rams’ safety Atogwe. Anderson’s ball fluttered slightly out of Fitzgerald’s reach as he dove headlong into the turf. The pass was definitely overthrown, but if Fitz is healthy he probably comes down with six points. Based on Whisenhunt’s quote, it seems he feels the same.
Maybe it’s unfair to expect Fitzgerald to come up with show stopping plays as a matter of course, but it’s something Cardinal fans and the NFL has become accustomed to seeing. It’s a trend that Whisenhunt of course has noticed as well. “I think we’ve been spoiled the last two-and-a-half years because Kurt and Larry had gotten I don’t know how many reps together,” Whisenhunt said. “That will come. I know if I was a quarterback and I was throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, I would certainly have a lot of confidence.”
The Cardinals would certainly benefit from the boost in confidence and production that a smooth connection between Fitz and Anderson would provide when they take on the Falcons this Sunday.