The story began on Sept. 11, when Fitzgerald first tweaked it. Every week since has been another chapter as the injury lingered, consistently landing him on the injury report for the first time in his career. The hamstring has slowed the receiver, despite his objections to the contrary, and has thrown a wrench into the development of the Cardinals’ offense. But with a few extra days off last week, and with the Cardinals’ bye coming next week, it’s looking like the last chapter on Fitzgerald’s hamstring is about to be written.
“Am I where I want to be? No,” Fitzgerald said. “But I’m better than I was, and that’s progress. I’m feeling good enough to go and play at a good level and that’s what I’m working for every day.”
Fitzgerald said he’s been working with the Cardinals’ training staff “around the clock” to get his hamstring back to full strength. But the best prescription is rest. And that’s been coming in small doses.
Arizona coach Bruce Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that Fitzgerald might not practice Wednesday in order to give the hamstring another day to heal. Fitzgerald did practice, and Arians said he’ll leave the decision to practice or not up to Fitzgerald.
Despite the benefit it may have on his hamstring, Fitzgerald won’t take a practice off.
“There’s plenty of guys in this locker room that are banged up and fight through it every single week, and I’m one of the 1,000 guys around the NFL that’s dealing with an injury and playing through it every week,” Fitzgerald said. “This is our job. You got to push through things. From time to time they come up and you push through them.
“I’m not one to make excuses. I don’t use that as an excuse at all. I got to study harder. I got to run faster. I got to get out of my breaks better. I got to do everything at a higher level and a higher sense of urgency and be better for [quarterback] Carson [Palmer] and the rest of my team.”
Palmer could see the hamstring limiting Fitzgerald throughout the year, and he could also see it taking a toll mentally.
“Certainly, the last couple of weeks, I know it’s been heavy on his mind and really kind of limited him in some of the things he can do practice-wise and also in games,” Palmer said.
Through seven games, Fitzgerald has 422 receiving yards, his fourth-lowest total ever at this point in a season. His 32 receptions are Fitzgerald’s third-lowest total and his 56.1 reception percentage is the second-lowest of his career.
Arians said Fitzgerald hasn’t been “the normal guy, but he plays and he’s been fairly effective.”
But the hope is after the rest from last weekend and the rest coming next week, Fitzgerald can start the second half of the season at 100 percent.
“Obviously, I would love to be able to put it behind me once and for all,” Fitzgerald said, “and be able to move forward and focus on doing what I need to do on the field to help my team win.”