The Falcons are going to take the “It takes a Village” approach to defending Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, even though he has been slowed by a hamstring injury.
“I think all of us will get him a little bit,” rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant said.
Fitzgerald, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, has 32 receptions for 422 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field and already has a 75-yard touchdown reception this season.
In the Falcons’ 23-19 win over Cardinals on Nov. 18, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan had the Falcons double-cover Fitzgerald. He finished with a catch for 11 yards. He was targeted seven times.
Last season, he had John Skelton as his starting quarterback. When Skelton could get the ball to Fitzgerald, former coach Ken Whisenhunt went to backup Ryan Lindley. Now, the Cardinals have veteran quarterback Carson Palmer.
“They throw a lot of jump balls, so you have to attack the ball first,” Trufant said. “You can’t let him jump first because more than likely he’s going to come down with it. We know he’s a great player.”
The Falcons plan to stay aware of where Fitzgerald is located on each play because the Cardinals will move him frequently.
“We are obviously going to focus on him because he’s a big threat,” Trufant said.
Falcons coach Mike Smith believes his secondary is up to defending Fitzgerald.
“Larry is very adept at using his body, to not only catch the ball, but also on his releases,” Smith said. “He’s one of the top receivers in the NFL.”