So, just where would Larry Fitzgerald prefer to be hit when he is on the field?
The veteran wide receiver paused just a moment Thursday when asked.
“In the end zone,” Fitzgerald said.
The quip drew laughs from the media surrounding him and effectively defused the discussion that had arisen out of the day before, when Lions safety Glover Quin told reporters that Fitzgerald had told him in the past he’d rather be hit high on his body than low – even offering to pay the fine if the defensive back was penalized for such a blow.
Fitzgerald wasn’t going down that road at all. After an earlier question, he said “I don’t really like to talk about
what happens in between the lines. … (Quin) is a great player, someone I have a lot of respect for.”
(To be fair, Fitzgerald apparently delivered the comment after Quin had hit him low, giving Fitzgerald an MCL injury.)
As for the idea that he might actually give pointers to a defensive back about what the defender was doing wrong – as Lions cornerback Darius Slay said – Fitzgerald simply said “I don’t recall.”
Fitzgerald is prepping to start his 14th season. There was no talk – yet – of Fitzgerald potentially playing his final season. Coming off a year in which he led the NFL with 107 catches, Fitzgerald said he wouldn’t be setting any goals that specific for 2017.
“The ball comes my way, I’ll do whatever I can to catch it,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a lot of guys capable of making plays. If my number is called, I’m going to try to do what I have done the last 13 years. That’s not going to change.”
As for being hit, Fitzgerald did acknowledge he would have to wait until next week to know how his 34-year-old body would react to the game, given that he didn’t play much in the preseason (19 snaps total). But no, he didn’t wish he had played more.
“I’ve taken enough (hits),” Fitzgerald said. “Two-hundred-plus games, I’ve taken my fair share. I’m pretty sure it feels the same way it has always felt. I’m ready for it. I’ve worked extremely hard in the offseason and in training camp to get myself physically prepared.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said he still gets butterflies as the regular season begins. So too does Fitzgerald.
“I get butterflies in preseason games,” Fitzgerald said. “I like it because it makes me know that this is something
I’m still passionate about. If I ever lost the butterflies, I don’t think that would be a good thing.”
One guy who does not feel it is apparently cornerback Patrick Peterson.
“I don’t know the last time I got butterflies, to be honest with you,” Peterson said. “I think (Carson) is a bit too old to be getting butterflies. The last time I got butterflies, maybe in high school?
“I haven’t been nervous in God knows how long. I don’t know if it’s the confidence that I have, or the way I practice to prepare for when the game comes it’s easy for me, I don’t know what it is. But I don’t get jitters before a game.”
As coach Bruce Arians promised, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (calf) practiced for the first time Thursday, on a limited basis. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher reiterated Nkemdiche was getting better.
Nkemdiche’s status remains in doubt for Sunday, but Bettcher said he is pleased with the defensive line regardless.
“I love the mix,” Bettcher said.
Guard Mike Iupati (triceps) remains limited. For the Lions, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (knee), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (ankle) and tackle Corey Robinson (foot) were limited.