Larry Fitzgerald Injury: Cardinals WR Must Play for Arizona to Top Saints

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Larry Fitzgerald Injury: Cardinals WR Must Play for Arizona to Top Saints
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald practiced on Friday, but he's listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.

The Cardinals are going to need the seven-time Pro Bowler if they expect to upset the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Fitzgerald, who injured his left hamstring in practice on Sept. 11, battled through the Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions before leaving late in the third quarter. Per Weinfuss' report, he was limited in Friday's practice, but he did go through drills "at full speed."

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Interestingly enough, Sunday's matchup at the Superdome may be less of a shootout than you would expect. Drew Brees and the Saints are averaging 19.5 points per game through two weeks, ranked 23rd in the NFL. 

The additions of quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians in the offseason have appeared to boost the Arizona offense. The Cardinals are averaging 24.5 points per contest, 12th in the NFL. That includes the 25-21 victory over the Lions in Week 2.

But two of Palmer's three touchdown passes this season have gone to Fitzgerald, and the Saints defense has been much better than a season ago, holding opponents to 15.5 points per game under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (tied for sixth in the NFL).

 

Saints Defense (NFL ranking, courtesy of ESPN.com and FootballOutsiders.com)

Opponents 2012 2013
Points per game 31 T6
Points per drive 31 5
Yards per drive 32 12
Turnovers per drive 12 9

 

The last time Fitzgerald faced the Saints in 2010, he posted seven catches for 93 yards. Given his apparent rapport with Palmer in the 23-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 (eight catches, 80 yards, two touchdowns on 14 targets), you would think he would better those numbers this time around.  

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Still, it's possible that the Saints limit the rest of the Cardinals offense on Sunday. The defense has been worlds better than it was in 2012. New Orleans allowed 28.4 points per contest last season, good for 31st in the league.

Palmer has given the Cardinals something they haven't had in years: a decent quarterback. But even with the addition of Palmer, the Cardinals are undoubtedly underdogs headed into Sunday's clash. They can't afford to be without Fitzgerald against Brees and the Saints in the Superdome.

 

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