Larry Fitzgerald calls for backup but Cardinals receivers aren't answering

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There’s been just one bright spot for the Arizona Cardinals’ dismal offense through two games thus far.

And it’ll come as no surprise who it is.

Larry Fitzgerald has been doing his part – and doing it well – leading the Cards in receptions and yards. He’s been, quarterback Sam Bradford admitted last week, the focal point of the passing game.

And Fitzgerald hasn’t been getting much help from his fellow receivers. Only Christian Kirk has caught a pass – five to be exact – while Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson and rookie Trent Sherfield have yet to record a catch.

It’s not the reason why the Cards’ offense has barely gotten off the ground this season. But it’s a part.

Arizona’s passing game has accounted for 37 catches -- ranked 26th in the league -- for an NFL-low 243 yards. The receivers have 15 catches -- ranked 30th in the NFL -- for 135 yards, which are the fewest in the league by any receiving corps. Running backs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones have only barely supplemented things. The trio are the only other Cardinals who have caught passes thus far this season and have combined for 22 catches for 108 yards.

Fitzgerald is responsible for 10 catches and 104 yards.

Despite the lack of help, Fitzgerald hasn’t given up on his fellow pass-catchers just yet.

“Obviously, the first two weeks we haven’t had the breakout [performances] that we had hoped for," Fitzgerald said, "but you turn the tape on, there’s nobody doing anything glaringly wrong. The guys are working hard. They’re playing with great effort. It just hasn’t come yet.”

If it comes Sunday against the Chicago Bears, Fitzgerald might not be on the field to see it.

Fitzgerald suffered a hamstring injury Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams that forced him to leave the game early in the fourth quarter. He said it was “a little tight” for the last 10 days but he didn’t feel it pop, but felt it grab.

On Monday, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said the team will do everything in its power to get Fitzgerald ready but Wilks added he needs to “help Larry help himself.”

Should Fitzgerald not play, the Cardinals’ passing game could be in even bigger trouble than it’s already showed because of the lack of productivity from the receivers behind Fitzgerald, who have either not been getting opportunities or not making plays when they do.

Fitzgerald has been targeted a team-high 15 times. Kirk, Nelson, Williams and Sherfield have been targeted a combined 13 times. By comparison, Johnson, Edmonds and Seals-Jones have been targeted 31 times combined.

But coach Steve Wilks isn’t blaming the receivers.

Wilks said Bradford needs to have more patience and confidence in the pocket, so he can step up and make the throws he needs, which haven’t been coming.

“I don’t want to say he’s getting rid of the ball too quick because sometimes it predicates him getting the ball out quick, but there are times right now that if we allow the receiver to continue with his route, things are coming open a couple of times down the field,” Wilks said. “I don’t know whether he’s feeling the pressure in the pocket. Regardless, right here, we’ve got to do a better job of stepping up and being firm. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve got to do a better job of protecting him.”

Nelson, who wasn’t targeted against Washington, was thrown to once against Los Angeles, with 12:36 left in the game.

That, however, might change.

As part of Wilks’ mandate Monday that the offensive playbook be scaled back, he wants to see more of a vertical passing game -- in addition to more of a role from Johnson in the passing game -- and that will mean more Nelson.

“You see teams do it to us all the time across the league -- rub routes, pick routes,” Wilks said. “If the running game is going, the play-action over the top [is there]. J.J. is a vertical threat for us. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball down the field.

“So, all those things are being talked about. All those things are being evaluated and all those things are going to be put into motion moving forward.”