Thu Dec 27 8:16pm ET
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
In this Dec. 9, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes his 1,282nd career catch during the second half of an NFL football game as Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) defends in Glendale, Ariz. Fitzgerald will complete a difficult season in Seattle, and he is not saying whether it will be his last. Through 15 years in the league, all with the Cardinals, he has compiled statistics that rival any receiver in the business. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
File-This Dec. 23, 2018, file photo shows Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) running as Los Angeles Rams defensive back Marqui Christian (41) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. An Arizona loss will clinch the top-pick in the 2019 NFL draft for the Cardinals (3-12) and may spell an end to Steve Wilks tenure as their head coach. Its been an underwhelming season for the Cardinals and the struggles have led to plenty of rumors that Wilks will only last one season. Theres also the question of whether Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, will be Fitzgeralds finale after 15 standout seasons. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Someday, obviously, Larry Fitzgerald will play in his last NFL game. Whether that game is Sunday, when his beleaguered Arizona Cardinals play at Seattle, is anybody's guess.
And don't expect any hints from him. He doesn't like to talk about it.
''I haven't even thought about it,'' Fitzgerald said after the Cardinals practiced on Thursday. ''I'm just focused on trying to get this win in Seattle.''
The week before, he'd said, rather impatiently, ''You know me. I've been answering for the last three years. Nothing's going to change,'' he said. ''If I decide to retire, I'll let you guys know. Man, seriously. So, I don't understand why we keep asking these questions.''
The answer would be because he's 35 years old, played 15 seasons in the NFL and has accumulated statistics that place him among the best to play the game.
Certainly Fitzgerald seems physically capable of continuing beyond this season.
''I believe from an ability standpoint there's very few people that can do what Larry does,'' Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said.
''That's just honest. When the ball comes in his direction, when it's time to make the play, he's one of the best to ever do it.''
Leftwich said he's never seen a better pair of hands on a receiver, although he acknowledged that might tick off Randy Moss.
Fitzgerald is remarkably durable. He's caught a pass in 226 consecutive games. Sunday will mark his 234th NFL game, all with the Cardinals, tying the franchise record set by kicker Jim Bakken, who played from 1962-78.
With 14 yards receiving, he'll top 2,000 yards receiving against the Seahawks. Fitzgerald's already topped that mark against the Rams and 49ers, so he would join Jerry Rice as the only receivers to accomplish that feat against three teams.
Last week, in an otherwise ugly loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Fitzgerald threw his first career TD pass, a nifty 32-yarder to David Johnson.
Now, though, he finds himself on a 3-12 team that ranks last in the NFL in offense with a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen and all the inconsistencies that brings. Fitzgerald has 65 catches for 698 yards and five touchdowns. Decent stats for anyone else, but in the previous three years, Fitzgerald caught 109, 107 and 109 passes.
So why keep playing? In terms of wins and losses, this will be the worst record of any of his 15 Cardinals teams, no matter what happens on Sunday in Seattle.
Yet he said he still loves his job.
''I can't think of anything I don't like about it,'' he said. ''The grind is great, man. It's part of it. You can't do what you do on Sunday without the practices and lifting the weights and watching the film and doing all the studying and the preparation. You can't go out there and execute if you don't put the time in.''
But those losses keep piling up.
''Hard work doesn't guarantee results,'' Fitzgerald said. ''But it ensures that you're prepared to go out there and play, and that's my thing. I step on that field there's no guarantees of anything but I know I'm prepared to play. I know my assignments, I know what I need to execute. It's your will against the other man you're competing against.''
Fitzgerald, if he returns, may be dealing with another coaching change. He's voiced his support for Steve Wilks, who looks to be on shaky ground at the end of his first season as coach.
As for Wilks, he said he's just blessed to coach a player such as Fitzgerald.
''I think about that daily just being around him, to be honest with you,'' Wilks said. ''Last week, I walked up to him, and here's a Thursday practice, and he's diving for a ball in the end zone. A guy with 15 years in the league. I try to reference that with the young guys, particularly Christian (Kirk) when he was still here practicing daily. You've got a great example and a mentor to really pattern your life after - not just football, but life.
''Larry's just one of the best.''
The battle to be the backup quarterback rages this offseason for the Seattle Seahawks, but Geno Smith is getting a lot of compliments from the coaching staff so far. Head coach Pete Carroll made specific mention of Smith's comfort with handling the huddle and making adjustments at the line, and he compared Smith's savvy to that of longtime backup Tarvaris Jackson. That's high praise from the coach since it's incredibly rare that a backup QB is held in high a regard as Jackson was, but Smith has to win his competition with Paxton Lynch first. Lynch signed with Seattle early in the offseason, but the coaching staff hasn't made any indications about who is winning the job yet. For now, it looks to be a battle that will go on throughout all of training camp.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown filled a red-zone niche for the team last year, but head coach Pete Carroll seems to already be scheming for him in 2019. Carroll told reporters that he felt the team had "underused" him last season and expects to get more out of his this year. Brown only caught 14 passes last year, five for touchdowns, but he's still incredibly fast. With D.K. Metcalf in the mix, Brown could see more utilization in a dual deep threat type of set, and fantasy owners shouldn't forget that Russell Wilson is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league on deep balls. If Carroll is telling the truth about the team's plans, Brown could be a surprise star in Seattle.
The Seattle Seahawks see big things in wide receiver Tyler Lockett, even if he's not very large. With the retirement of their steady No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin over the offseason, Seattle will be trying to fill big shoes in the passing game. It all begins with Lockett. Lockett had a breakout season in 2018 as Baldwin dealt with injuries that would eventually end his career, and it looks like the torch can be passed in most ways. Both are small, quick receivers who run excellent routes and have steady hands, so the feel of the offense shouldn't change dramatically. The real question will be how much use Lockett will get, even if he is the go-to guy. Seattle is notorious for spreading the ball around and not letting Russell Wilson do too much of the work, but there's no clear-cut No. 2 receiver behind Lockett, so he will likely see the vast majority of the looks, especially on third down.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore burst onto the scene in 2018 by making a host of acrobatic, highlight-reel catches to announce his presence. Unfortunately, he slowed down with time, and it turned out that his acrobatics covered up for the fact that he struggled to get open on a consistent basis. His highs have been outstanding and stick in peoples' minds, but he also fades into the background during most games. Entering camp in 2019, Moore will be competing against Jaron Brown and D.K. Metcalf to try to lock up the No. 2 spot in the wide receiver pecking order. His competition is talented, but all three receivers have their warts. If Moore can improve his ability to get separation on a regular basis, he could easily run away from the others (metaphorically speaking).
The Eagles are bringing back running back Darren Sproles for one more season. After playing in just six games last year, it looked like Sproles might be done in the NFL, but the Eagles decided to bring Sproles back to an already crowded backfield that features Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, and Miles Sanders. Clement might be in the most trouble from the Sproles signing, but overall it's looking more and more like this is a running back committee that fantasy owners should stay away from. This move does almost guarantee that either Josh Adams or Wendell Smallwood are cut before the season opens.
Denver Broncos QB Joe Flacco threw three interceptions during practice Saturday, July 20.
Fantasy Spin: Flacco is on track to be the starting quarterback this season and will look to post better numbers than he did last season. He will have a decent receiving corps to work with this season but likely will only be a low-end No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Jason Pierre-Paul (neck) likely will open training camp on the Active/Non-Football Injury list.
Denver Broncos TE Troy Fumagalli (hip) is considered day-to-day because of a hip injury.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill could be on his way out of KC, according to Mike Florio. Hill has been cleared of his suspension, but the team is not close to an extension with Hill. The Chiefs have some depth at wide receiver, so losing Hill would not be the end of the world. There's a possibility of a tag-and-trade next offseason, but Hill will likely remain in Kansas City this upcoming season. The two sides may continue to talk extension, but it doesn't sound like either side is close at all.
Buffalo Bills FS Kurt Coleman is expected to battle with Siran Neal and Jaquan Neal for defensive snaps as the team's third safety. SS Micah Hyde and FS Jordan Poyer will remain the starters.
With the onslaught of new talent brought in by the Oakland Raiders this offseason, running back Jalen Richard could find more success despite being further down the list of the teams top offensive weapons. Richard will primarily work once again as a pass-catching back, limiting his playing time to third downs and spelling off rookie Josh Jacobs. In 2018, Richard finished seventh among running backs in receptions (68) and targets (81) while picking up 607 receiving yards in the process. With the more dynamic players on the offense creating more space for him to maneuver, he could be the right change-of-pace back the team needs in certain scenarios especially with his proven chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr. Richard is a player to watch as a potential handcuff to Jacobs, and could find value in PPR leagues if he finds more work in the red zone.
Joining the new offensive formula for the Oakland Raiders this season, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow hopes to be a part of it in a big way in 2019. The fifth-round rookie has his eyes on the job for the teams starting slot receiver, sandwiched on the field between fellow newcomers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. Battling Ryan Grant and JJ Nelson for the position, Renfrow has a dynamic skill set that forced GM Mike Mayock to trade up for him at this years draft. His 510 frame, reliable hands, and excellent route-running abilities give him the proper skill set, but hell have to prove hes the right man for the job during training camp and the preseason. Renfrow is a name to watch out for in the buildup to the regular season and is solely on the dynasty league radar until we know more about his role going forward.
Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray was impressive during offseason workouts, and he is getting ready for his first training camp with practice starting July 25. He is expected to get the starting nod in Week 1 ahead of veteran journeyman Brett Hundley, and he has impressed early on. "I was impressed with how smart he is, how determined he is. His future is extremely bright," future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said after the rookie's minicamp showing. Murray is already moving up the pre-draft cheat sheets, and he is considered a borderline low-end QB1 or top-end QB2 in most fantasy formats, while having considerably higher value in long-term dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been impressed by the quick learning by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and his familiarity with the offense. "I know him running (Oklahoma head coach) Lincoln Riley's offense is very similar to what Coach Kliff (Kingsbury) runs," Fitzgerald says, "but on the first day he's calling audibles and getting us in plays that are favorable to the offense. So I was really impressed by his ability to take a leadership position first day at the offense." Fitzgerald also remarked that the Arizona offense will be much faster in tempo, with players expected to process pre-snap adjustments considerably faster. Fitzgerald is getting a little long in the tooth, but the up-tempo style should keep him rather productive heading into 2019. He's a reliable WR3/4 or flex fantasy option in most formats.
Denver Broncos RB Khalfani Muhammad had a 'solid' practice Friday, July 19, capping the session with a long catch on a wheel route, according to Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate (hip) said he has been medically cleared and will be 100 percent for training camp.
Fantasy Spin: Brate likely will be sharing playing time with O.J. Howard but could still have a decent role in the passing game. He has a chance to be a No. 2 tight end in some fantasy leagues in 2019.
Free-agent RB Darren Sproles (Eagles) signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Friday, July 19. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Free-agent RB David Williams (Jaguars) officially signed with the Denver Broncos Friday, July 19. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The Denver Broncos have signed running back David Williams, who the team originally drafted in 2018 before letting go. Williams was a Jaguar last season, but carried the ball just eight times for 36 yards with Jacksonville. It's hard to imagine a situation where Williams has fantasy value in a Broncos backfield that already has Royce Freeman and Phillip, but stranger things have happened. He's not draftable in any format, but a good training camp could put him in the mix for some of Devontae Booker's snaps as the number-three back.
Free-agent DE/LB Connor Barwin (Eagles) told Sirius XM NFL Radio during an interview Friday, July 17, that he has spoken with general manager Howie Roseman about re-signing. Barwin indicated the Eagles want to take a look at their younger players for a few weeks in training camp first but suggested the two sides will reconvene after that.