Larry Fitzgerald is coming off his least productive season since his rookie year in 2004. His four touchdowns were the lowest total of his career, and he found the end zone just once after Halloween.
It wasn't for lack of effort. Fitzgerald's 156 targets were seventh among NFL wide receivers, but the Arizona Cardinals' wayward quarterbacks couldn't get him the ball, and they finished with a combined 55.4 completion percentage and 63.1 passer rating. Of the six quarterbacks who started for the Cardinals since Kurt Warner's retirement after the 2009 season, only Ryan Lindley remains with the organization.
Fitzgerald, a stand-up guy, isn't one to complain about the NFL's worst quarterback situation over the past few years, but it's clear that he's relieved to have Carson Palmer under center this season.
"It does instill confidence knowing the leader of your offense is into it and wants to see everyone play at a high level," Fitzgerald said of Palmer, the team's official website reported Tuesday.
Palmer is just as excited to work with Fitzgerald, saying he's been "exactly what I expected" after seeing him from afar over the years.
"He's working as hard in practice as he was in games," Palmer said. "He's a perfectionist. He wants to do things right every single times. He and I will get along great because I am the same way."
Fitzgerald has several other reasons to be excited beyond the quarterback and offensive line upgrades. Defenders won't be able to employ bracket coverage, as beat writers have noted that last year's first-rounder Michael Floyd looks "impressive" and "more confident" while taking more first-team reps than Andre Roberts. Arians is deploying Fitzgerald in the slot as well as outside, just as he did in helping Reggie Wayne to the second-highest yardage total of his career last season.