Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to be a Viking, much to the chagrin of many Minnesota fans who were hoping otherwise when Fitz had yet to sign his contract extension. Still, playing in Minnesota is “extra special” to Fitz, who has so many family members, friends and fans who love him in his hometown.
You know what would be extra extra special? Winning there. “I want to walk off that field victorious,” said Fitzgerald, the one-time Vikings ballboy. “Never done it before.”
This will be Fitz’s third regular-season trip to Minny. He dominated back in 2006, when Matt Leinart threw for a then-rookie record 405 yards and the Cards came up short, 31-26. He should have gotten the win last year, when the Cards had a 14-point lead with six minutes left before blowing it in overtime.
(Hard to forget Fitz, who already had 100 yards receiving, wide open on the first play of overtime in one-on-one coverage. If Derek Anderson, who had time, hits Fitz, the Cards are likely in field-goal range right then. Instead, a throw behind Fitz at his feet. Ugh.)
Now Fitzgerald will go home knowing the Vikings’ top cornerback, Antoine Winfield, probably won’t play with a neck injury. If the Cards can protect Kevin Kolb long enough, it’s hard not to sense Fitz having a big day.
– As if it didn’t already seem like it was headed this way, defensive coordinator Ray Horton acknowledged Friday the Cardinals will get second-year linebacker O’Brien Schofield on the field more in Minnesota this weekend.
“We definitely are,” Horton said. “We need to generate some pressure. “You look at everything around the league, you have to have pressure. We didn’t get enough pressure on Eli (Manning last weekend).”
Horton said Schofield’s progress since getting the wristband with the plays has been “remarkable.” Horton took responsibility of getting the “right” personnel and the right plays called in the game. The idea with the 10-point lead wasn’t to come after Manning but instead make Manning throw shorter and eat up more time on the clock. Didn’t work out that way.
– I think Beanie Wells will play, and, in theory, play well. Is he going to have another 138 yards rushing? Let’s not go overboard. Another 100 would be nice. Just an effective running game would be nice. Wells didn’t want to dwell on rushing stats this week anyway, not in light of the losing streak.
“All in all, if we pass the ball for 500 yards and we get the win, who’s complaining?” Wells asked rhetorically. Well, no one, actually.
– Cornerback Patrick Peterson got dinged for his first NFL fine this week. He was docked $5,000 for roughing Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes on Tynes’ end-of-the-first-half field goal last weekend.
– After Todd Heap missed the final two days of practice with a sore hamstring, those hoping to see more of rookie Rob Housler at tight end are looking like they will get their wish.
– Speaking of game-day decisions like Heap, it will be interesting to see what the Cards do at right tackle. If Brandon Keith is still dealing with soreness/possible swelling in his surgically repaired knee, it makes a lot of sense to go with Jeremy Bridges – especially since Bridges has played pretty well when he is in there.
– Fitzgerald and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen – who lives in the Valley in the offseason – have become good friends. Allen joked earlier this week that he told the Minny DBs how to stop Fitz: “Poke him in the eye or something.”
Allen has 6½ sacks in four games. Said Fitz, “I am happy to see him playing as well as he is. I told him we need him to take a week off against us, he was like, ‘Fitz no, this is a big week I have to get it going, I’m on a roll.’ I’m like, ‘Crap, that’s never a good sign when you hear that.’ ”
– It’ll be a big job for left tackle Levi Brown, who had his Allen issues last year. I’d assume the Cards will help with chip blocking.
This is a big game. Go into the bye with a 2-3 record and two weeks to prepare for a reeling Steelers team that has to come to Arizona, the Cards can deal with that. Drop to 1-4 and lose to a winless team – especially after last week – and it’ll be a long two weeks.
Besides, Fitz needs that win in Minny.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Brandon Keith, Jared Allen, Jeremy Bridges, Larry Fitzgerald, O'Brien Schofield, Ray Horton, Rob Housler, Todd Heap, Vikings
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