Cardinals' Fitzgerald limited by injury but expects to play vs. Lions

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald has missed just four games in his six NFL seasons, and he doesn't expect to make it five this weekend.

The Arizona Cardinals' All-Pro wide receiver was limited in practice Wednesday, but he expressed confidence that he will be in the lineup Sunday at Detroit.

Fitzgerald bruised a bone and sprained his right knee when San Francisco's Dashon Goldson landed on the receiver's leg during the third quarter of the Cardinals' 23-9 loss to the 49ers on Monday night.

"It was scary," Fitzgerald said. "I felt the pop in there. Immediately when you feel that, you just hope for the best."

Fitzgerald was helped off the field and went to the locker room, where he said he "got a good tape job and a t-shot," referring to a painkilling injection. He returned for the final 3½ minutes of the game.

An MRI on Tuesday determined the injury wasn't as serious as Fitzgerald first feared it might be.

"We don't like to talk about the injury stuff," he said. "I'm just fortunate it wasn't any worse than it is, and I'll be able to go out there and keep playing. ... It's only been two days, so by tomorrow and Friday, I think I'll be feeling real good."

Fitzgerald is on a string of 37 consecutive starts for Arizona. The only games he has missed since the Cardinals drafted him No. 3 overall in 2004 are three with a hamstring injury in 2006 and one with a sore groin in 2007.

"The big thing with Larry is you have to hold him back," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Fitzgerald's work in practice. "I think the most important thing is we don't want to do too much with him that he is getting swelling or soreness later in the week."

Fitzgerald caught just two passes for 22 yards in the Monday night debacle, a game in which the Cardinals had seven turnovers, five of them fumbles. That left Fitzgerald nine shy of reaching 1,000 receiving yards for the third season in a row and the fourth time in his NFL career.

Fitzgerald is 34 shy of 7,000 receiving yards for his career, and he could be the youngest player in NFL history (26 years, 111 days) to reach that milestone.

"Obviously, we all know he's a huge part of what we do and a huge part of the success we've had around here," Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said. "... It would obviously mean a lot not to have him and affect us, but at the same time I would expect whoever it is that has to step into that role to step in and play very well."

If Fitzgerald can't play, Early Doucet or Jerheme Urban would be Arizona's No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

"One of the things that we've done is we've had these guys play a number of different spots, and that's a product of moving Larry around," Whisenhunt said. "They have all got training as the single receiver or the inside receiver or the outside receiver in all those spots. In order to put those guys in, plug them in, it's not starting all over, which is a good thing."


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Fitzgerald believes it's a moot point because he will play Sunday, when the Cardinals hope to bounce back against the 2-11 Lions. If Arizona wins and San Francisco loses at Philadelphia, the Cardinals will clinch their second NFC West title in a row.

Fitzgerald brushed aside the suggestion that the safe thing would be for him to sit out the game in order to make sure he's healthy for the playoffs.

"We've got games to take care of," he said.

The Cardinals could be without kicker Neil Rackers against the Lions. Rackers aggravated a nagging groin injury, leading Arizona to sign Mike Nugent on Wednesday to fill in if needed.

Backup defensive end Kenny Iwebema will miss the Detroit game with a shoulder injury. Offensive tackle Mike Gandy missed practice to see a doctor about his lingering pelvis injury.

The Cardinals placed safety Matt Ware on injured reserve, ending his season, because of a knee injury sustained Monday night.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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