Fitzgerald impressive - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Fitzgerald impressive

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Posted: Saturday, May 1, 2004 7:39 am | Updated: 4:26 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Larry Fitzgerald was asked when he was planning to move out to the Valley and get settled in as the latest Cardinals’ first-round draft pick.

With a straight face, the receiver — who will make between $10 million and $15 million in signing bonuses in a matter of months — said, "I just want to make the team first."

That isn’t going to be an issue, even if Fitzgerald, sporting jersey No. 11, hadn’t already shown flashes of his rare talents.

"I was impressed with him for the first day," quarterback Josh McCown said, marveling at one catch of an offtarget pass in particular.

The Cards’ big three draft picks — second-round linebacker Karlos Dansby and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, along with Fitzgerald — had mixed results for their first day in minicamp. Fitzgerald was solid, and Dockett showed the quickness off the line that made many think he was a steal of a choice.

Dansby did little after hurting his groin early in the morning practice.

All three could have the opportunity to start at some point as rookies. Fitzgerald’s talents are well known, although he is running second team for now, behind starters Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson. Dansby could challenge Gerald Hayes or Levar Fisher at strongside linebacker, and Dockett should battle Kenny King and Wendell Bryant as the "under" tackle.

"I don’t know if first-year players start," coach Dennis Green said. "I know some have done it, some that haven’t. Guys have to find out where they can go."

The players sidestepped the issue Friday, trying to take in their first day in the NFL without getting complicated in its analysis.

"I’m trying not to think that far ahead," Dansby said. "I want to compete, and if I get the starting job, then I will be a starter. I will work to push the guy in front of me."

Said Fitzgerald, "I know I can play the game. I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t. But I also understand these veterans out here, they’ve been here . . . (and) I just want to pay the proper respect to them."

Either way, the first-day picks should make some kind of impact, just as Green said he wanted before the draft.

"We will," Dockett said. "For now, we have to stay healthy and have everyone learn."

The defense will benefit from whatever Dansby and Dockett can provide, but it is Fitzgerald who will be the impetus for any large offensive leaps. Fitzgerald said he was comfortable in the offense, since he played under a similar system in college under coach Walt Harris, a former NFL offensive coordinator.

Green said he thought the Cardinals could develop the best receiving corps in the NFL, an immense expectation for a rookie (Fitzgerald) and two receivers with one year of experience (Boldin and Johnson).

And when Fitzgerald snagged pass after pass and Boldin chipped in with one of his jaw-dropping one-handed catches during drills, it didn’t sound unrealistic.

"The big thing is to not have guys get too excited," Green said. "We want to make them realize you’re not going to earn your starting (job) today in the first practice of the first minicamp."

EXTRA POINTS: The Cardinals were missing 10 players because of injury Friday, including linebacker Levar Fisher (knee), safety Dexter Jackson (back) and cornerback Renaldo Hill (wrist).

The Cardinals wore black and white "40" stickers on their helmets, in memory of Pat Tillman.

Receiver Kevin Kasper was running with Fitzgerald as a secondteam receiver, behind Johnson and Boldin. Nate Poole, who had been the No. 4 receiver, was sitting with a foot injury.

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