BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – Believe it or not, after 12 years in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald still gets nervous before a season opener.
“I always have nerves, I always have butterflies before every game, it doesn’t matter when it is. It let’s you know you’re alive, and it’s still important to you,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re all excited about the new opportunity (and) the new season. We’ve worked really hard this offseason to get ready for it, (and we’re) playing against a team (New Orleans Saints) that we know is a really good opponent. They’ve been successful for as long as (Saints head coach) Sean Payton and (Saints quarterback) Drew Brees have been together. We know we have a formidable opponent coming to town.”
Fitzgerald and the Cardinals will find out what their offensive identity will be starting on Sunday against Rob Ryan and his defense. Ryan will throw everything at the Cardinals defensively, including the kitchen sink, so it’s imperative that Arizona be precise in everything they do offensively against him and his defense.
“Yes, absolutely,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a lot of things that are unorthodox about his (Ryan) schemes. He brings guys, (and) you never know where they’re gonna come from, so you have to really be studied and learned on what you need to be doing, and (be) ready for anything; the Bear fronts, and the B2 slides, and all the exotic things that he’s going to do. We just have to be ready, and make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
What’s going to help Fitzgerald and the Cardinals offense overcome Ryan and his defense will be the sheer number of healthy bodies they’ll have to throw at the Saints defense. It was a struggle for the offense during the second half of last season, simply because they had bodies dropping all over the place, and they couldn’t sustain the momentum they had when they were 9-1. Fitzgerald says things are much different now.
“We’re healthy now, that’s the big difference,” Fitzgerald said. “Everybody’s back healthy now, (so) we have no excuses to go out and start fast. We had (an) extra practice this week to prepare for them (Saints), (and) another day to watch tape, and get acclimated with their personnel, so there’s no excuse to go out there and play fast. We’ve had the game plan in our hands now for four days, five days, and guys are chomping at the bit to get out there.”
“We’re going to find out this Sunday what we’re all about, and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what we are,” Fitzgerald said. “Hopefully we have a passing identity, but if we need to run the ball to win, I know we’re capable of doing that as well.”