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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 Authentic
Joe Thornton Jersey ," 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," 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,"
Star running back David Johnson was absent again Wednesday in an apparent
Fitzgerald wouldn't say much about that but hinted at his support for the
"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 Saints Elite
Jerseys , so I want to beat him at the oldest golf course in the
Who's paying for the trip? At least indirectly, Fitzgerald said, Peterson
"Pat's paying for the trip after all the money I've taken from him this
offseason," he said. "I'm appreciative of that."
Turns out there were enough bodies on offense for the Kansas City Chiefs to
practice after all.
The Chiefs opened a three-day rookie minicamp on Saturday after selecting six
defensive players in last week's draft, though one of them 鈥?defensive tackle
Kahlil McKenzie 鈥?is expected to transition to offensive guard. But with 14
rookie free agents and another 43 players in for tryouts, there were plenty of
bodies to make up an offensive, defensive and special teams unit.
Don't sleep on the unknown guys, either.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid pointed out that just a few years ago, an unheralded
wide receiver named Albert Wilson impressed him during the same weekend. Wilson
hung around for the next phase of the offseason program, survived training camp
and ultimately made the Kansas City roster.
This past offseason, Wilson signed a $24 million, three-year deal with the
"Albert just made about $8 million," Reid said with a smile, "so there's been
a few. You invite them to the next phase and the next and eventually they make
Still, it's the draft picks that will draw the most attention this
The Chiefs didn't have a first-round pick Ed Dickson
Jersey Seahawks , so they used their initial selection on Ole Miss
pass rusher Breeland Speaks in the second round. Speaks is expected to push last
year's second-round pick, Tanoh Kpassgnon, for playing time right out of the
gate opposite standout linebacker Justin Houston.
"I did get the playbook," Speaks said. "My first reaction was, 'I can do
this.' I looked at a few defenses we installed today and went over those and
know those by heart already."
With two third-round picks, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach continued to
shore up his defense. He grabbed 315-pound run-stuffer Derrick Nnadi out of
Florida State and then Clemson hybrid linebacker Dorian O'Daniel, both of whom
could also factor into the starting rotation this fall.
The Chiefs were thin along the defensive front, even after signing Xavier
Williams in free agency and retaining Rakeem Hunez-Roches as a restricted free
agent. And with the expected departure of erstwhile pass rusher Tamba Hali, and
injury woes to Dee Ford, finding another linebacker was paramount.
McKenzie, the son of Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, was also in
attendance, as were fellow sixth-round pick Tremon Smith and Texas A&M
safety Armani Watts, who could be the steal of the draft.
Watts dropped to the fourth round after concerns about his workouts at the
combine, but the four-year starter said he had bulked up in the hopes that it
would help him out. Instead Adidas
Patrik Laine Jersey , it only slowed him down and already Watts has
reverted to his lean, fast playing weight.
The Chiefs are hopeful that he factors into the defense right away.
Star safety Eric Berry is returning from a season-ending Achilles tendon
injury, and reliable safety Ron Parker was released in a cost-saving move. That
leaves plenty of questions at the back of the defense.
"It's a little bit different for those safeties," Veach said, "because they
are like the quarterbacks of the defense where they have to line up people and
make the calls and adjustments. That is no different than any safety, even if
you draft them in the first round.
"Breeland is someone who we feel can come in and help us right away. Derrick,
Dorian and Armani can certainly do some different things while he grows and
understands the system a little bit better."
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
The Chiefs signed 14 rookie free agents on Saturday, including former Kansas
State wide receiver Byron Pringle. The local product left school a year early
and has intriguing size at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, but he needs to showcase better
hands than he did playing just down the road.
The Chiefs also signed RBs Darrell Williams and J.D. Moore from LSU; OL Ryan
Hunter (Bowling Green), Jimmy Murray (Holy Cross) and Devondre Seymour (Southern
Illinois); TE Blake Mack (Arkansas State); WR Elijah Marks (Northern Arizona);
QB Chase Litton (Marshall); DB Arrion Springs (Oregon) and D'Montre Wade (Murray
State); LBs Ben Niemann (Iowa) and Raymond Davison (California); and DT Dee
Liner (Arkansas State).
The Chiefs also had 43 players on tryouts during the three-day rookie
minicamp, including DB Elliott Berry. The undrafted rookie from Tennessee is the
younger brother of the Chiefs' star safety, Eric Berry.