The temperature was well into triple digits and sweat-soaked Larry Fitzgerald was still going full bore Ty Sambrailo Jersey , hauling in passes from Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen.
Entering his 15th season, with career receiving numbers among the best to have played the game, Fitzgerald is not talking about whether this year in the NFL will be his last.
"I'm just trying to make it to February in one piece," he said after the team's second day of minicamp on Wednesday.
Fitzgerald, who will turn 35 before the season begins, has taken part in every voluntary session with the same competitive mindset he's always had. As silly as it sounds, he said he plays like his job is on the line.
"When I say that I'm not saying it jokingly, that's the mentality that you have to have," he said. "All these guys, they're not bringing them in here for their own health. They're bringing them here to give them the opportunity to take your job. That's not lost on me ever. I'm fighting and competing just like everybody else is."
New coach Steve Wilks treasures having someone like Fitzgerald to help the Cardinals transition into a new system with the retirement of Bruce Arians.
"His commitment to this team, to this organization is invaluable," Wilks said. "It means a lot to me as a first-year head coach, a guy like that who can be an extension of you in the locker room, a true leader."
Fitzgerald is No. 1, with a lot of competition as to who will line up at the other receiver spots.
"The speed of the pack is determined by the speed of the leader," Wilks said. "He's one of the leaders. Guys are going to fall in line with him. The younger receivers are going to take his lead. It's great to have him out there. Not just being out there, but the way he goes about his business."
Fitzgerald said Wilks asked him to be there during voluntary OTAs and was effusive in his praise of new receivers coach Kevin Garver, who was assistant receivers coach in Arians' five seasons in Arizona.
Fitzgerald called Garver "one of the sharpest minds I've been around."
"I knew coach Wilks asked me early on to be here Philip Rivers Jersey ," Fitzgerald said. "And more so than that I wanted to start off on the right foot and make sure Kevin knew I was in the fight with him from day one. I want to be successful for Kevin and I knew in a few more years he'll be an offensive coordinator and a few years after that he'll be a head coach. I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can while I can to help him elevate."
Fitzgerald has had a lot of quarterbacks throw him passes since he was drafted third overall by the Cardinals in 2004.
Now he's getting used to a new one in Bradford, who is being eased into workouts because he's coming off a knee injury.
Fitzgerald said the two are still learning each other, as is expected.
"That comes through repetition," Fitzgerald said. "The same thing with Kurt Warner when he first got here and with Carson (Palmer) six years ago when he got here. It takes a little time but once two veterans are able to learn each other it makes it a lot easier."
With Bradford watching much of the time, Fitzgerald has caught a lot of balls from the rookie Rosen.
"I'm really impressed with how Josh has been able to grasp everything," Fitzgerald said.
Star running back David Johnson was absent again Wednesday in an apparent contract holdout.
Fitzgerald wouldn't say much about that but hinted at his support for the player.
"I don't know the details of it, honestly," Fitzgerald said. "I don't know anything that's going on. But I'm always for my teammates. I love my guys. I'll just leave it at that."
Fitzgerald is a well-documented world traveler. After the final minicamp session on Thursday, he and cornerback Patrick Peterson, a fellow avid golfer, are headed off together.
"We'll be over in St. Andrews playing some golf," he said. "We're going to have a good time. It's Pat's first time, so I want to beat him at the oldest golf course in the world."
Who's paying for the trip? At least indirectly, Fitzgerald said, Peterson is.
"Pat's paying for the trip after all the money I've taken from him this offseason," he said. "I'm appreciative of that."
The Atlanta Falcons’ claim to fame is the crushing way they lost a Super Bowl.
They’re hardly alone in these playoffs.
Seven of the 12 teams still alive have never celebrated in the big game, matching the largest group of playoff-bound squads with not-so-Super pedigrees since the 1999 season.
Will that lack of championship-winning experience prove costly?
If you’re on a team that hasn’t won a ring, it’s only natural to just shrug it off as a meaningless anomaly.
”It’s right here Dalvin Cook Jersey , right now,” Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn said Thursday. ”What’s in the past doesn’t matter.”
But there’s no denying that six-time champion Pittsburgh and five-time winner New England – the defending champ, as well – are the only true blue bloods in this field.
The Falcons have lost both of their Super Bowl appearances, including last season’s 34-28 overtime defeat in which Tom Brady and the Patriots stunningly rallied from a 25-point deficit in the second half . The NFC’s top seed, the Philadelphia Eagles, is also 0-2 in the Super Bowl, as are the Carolina Panthers.
Buffalo and Minnesota are the only franchises to lose four times in the big game without a title, and the Bills, of course, are the lone team to suffer that fate in four straight years. The Tennessee Titans (who began their existence as the Houston Oilers) came up short in their lone Super Bowl try. Jacksonville has never been to the title game at all .
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said it’s good to have a bunch of teams chasing their first crown.
He noted the huge demand for tickets in attendance-challenged Jacksonville, where the Jags are hosting the Bills in a matchup of teams that broke long playoff droughts this season.
”Could you imagine the hottest ticket in football is right here, selling for five, six times face value?” Khan said. ”Our cheapest ticket is 300 bucks, standing room. Could you believe that happening in freaking Jacksonville?”
Kansas City, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams have only one title apiece, though the latter’s came during their two-decade-long stint in St. Louis. The Chiefs reached two of the first four Super Bowls, winning it all in 1970, but they haven’t been back since. The Saints won their lone Super Bowl appearance during the 2009 season.
”Once you get in Tyrell Williams Jersey , it’s wide open for anybody,” insisted Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo, a nine-year veteran who will play his first playoff game Saturday against the Chiefs. ”Yeah, the Patriots and Steelers have a lot of pedigree, a lot of tradition, and you’ve got some young up-and-comers like ourselves that are hungry.”
Since the NFL went to a 12-team postseason format in 1990, the largest group of playoff teams without a Super Bowl title on their resume came 18 seasons ago. Kurt Warner and the high-flying Rams were among eight squads that had never won the championship until they held off Tennessee in the title game, memorably stopping the Titans’ final play at the 1-yard line.
The only other times that the current playoff structure included as many as seven non-Super Bowl-winning teams were 2008 and 1996.
When it comes to postseason neophytes, the Bills are drawing much of the attention after reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1999 , snapping the longest dry spell in any of the four major professional sports. But Buffalo it still known for that unprecedented four-year run of futility in the Super Bowl, which began in 1991 with Scott Norwood missing a potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds and was followed by three straight double-digit blowouts.
”It’s time to create some other memories of the Bills,” Thurman Thomas, the Hall of Fame running back on those Super Bowl-losing teams, told The Associated Press. ”It’s not the squad that went to the four straight Super Bowls. It’s somebody else.”
The Vikings were the first franchise to lose four Super Bowls, accomplishing that ignominious feat in an eight-year span that ended in 1976. They haven’t gotten that far again, losing five times in the NFC championship game, most recently during the 2000 season.
Coach Mike Zimmer said it’s important to take advantage of a season such as this, when the Vikings defied expectations by claiming a first-round bye behind a dominant defense journeyman quarterback Case Keenum .
”A lot of young guys come in and they expect it’s going to happen every single year Travis Kelce Jersey ,” Zimmer said. ”Really, you never know. The last time I won the Super Bowl was 1995 (as a Dallas assistant coach), so it’s been awhile.”
Receiver Adam Thielen isn’t fretting over all those Super Bowls the Vikings lost so many years ago.
He’s only concerned with the next one, which will be held at Minnesota’s home stadium.
”We’re not really focusing on what’s happened in the past,” Thielen said. ”Every year is a totally different situation: different team, different types of players. Honestly, for us, we just know that we have a lot of confidence in the way that we’re playing football.”
AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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