Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the Cardinals announced Thursday.
Fitzgerald, in his 17th NFL season, has played in all 10 of Arizona’s games this year, catching 43 passes for 336 yards. He ranks second on the team in receptions and targets, behind DeAndre Hopkins.
Sunday will mark the first game Fitzgerald has missed in over five seasons. At 37 years old, he has established a reputation for both durability and production.
Earlier this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick voiced his respect for Fitzgerald.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Larry,” Belichick said Wednesday. “He’s, I would say, to receivers what Peyton Manning was to quarterbacks in terms of that type of total obsession of knowing everything about the position and how to do things and how to convey those to his teammates.”
Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty, too, expressed his appreciation.
“Off the field, he exemplifies kind of what our league is looking for in a player, a guy whose longevity speaks for itself,” McCourty said. “You always laugh when you get a chance to compete against him because he’s a guy before the play, or during the game, is going to tell you, ‘Happy Holidays. Wish you and your family well,’ and then they’ll throw a jump ball up, and he’s going to try to dunk on you.”
Without Fitzgerald, the Cardinals will have in their receiving corps Hopkins, who leads the league in receiving yards, Christian Kirk, and UMass graduate Andy Isabella.
Six Patriots did not practice Thursday.
Defensive lineman Tashawn Bower (illness), running back Rex Burkhead (knee), and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (knee) were all sidelined for the second straight day, while safety Kyle Dugger (toe), specialist Matthew Slater (knee), and running back J.J. Taylor (quad) missed practice for the first time this week.
Defensive tackle Carl Davis (concussion), who was sidelined on Wednesday, returned to practice in a limited capacity. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin), defensive lineman Adam Butler (shoulder), defensive tackle Byron Cowart (back), kicker Nick Folk (back), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hand), defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, and knee), wide receiver N’Keal Harry (shoulder), tight end Ryan Izzo (hamstring, hand), guard Shaq Mason (calf), and guard Joe Thuney (ankle) all remained limited.
Wise misses teammate
Practice this week has been a little strange for defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. because his close friend, Derek Rivers, is no longer on the team.
“This is a very touchy subject,” Wise said Wednesday. “I need a moment of silence.”
After lowering his head for a moment, Wise shared his sadness surrounding Rivers’s departure. Rivers — whom New England drafted, along with Wise, in 2017 — was released last week and later claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams.
“Definitely him leaving is sad because we were really good friends,” Wise said. “Him leaving was something out of the blue. But I know he’s on a good team now and I wish him the best of luck.”
Wise said he has since spoken to Rivers and is looking forward to reuniting when the Patriots face the Rams in two weeks.
Sticking with the diet
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton’s vegan diet still applies on Thanksgiving, so he had no plans to enjoy any turkey on Thursday. Newton said his favorite side dishes include red rice and collard greens. He also called himself “a dessert guy.” McCourty also favors sides over turkey, listing candied yams as well as macaroni and cheese as two of his favorites … In addition to turning to the McCourty twins for guidance this season, Dugger has been in touch with fellow safety Patrick Chung, who opted out of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Dugger said Chung has been “really helpful” in learning his role. “Everything he’s told me I’ve been able to use,” he said … Newton said he’s expecting running back Sony Michel to offer a boost to the backfield, especially now that Burkhead’s season is over. Michel, who hasn’t played since Week 3, was activated off injured reserve last week. “He’s got fresh legs,” Newton said.
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