Awkward? Elder Fitzgerald rips Doucet

Larry Fitzgerald Sr. has worked as a reporter and sports commentator for years. He will always be best known, however, for his role as father to one of the all-time great NFL receivers.

That familial connection becomes impossible to ignore when the elder Fitzgerald rips one of his son's Arizona Cardinals teammates -- particularly another wide receiver on the team.

That happened Monday when Larry Fitzgerald Sr. called out Early Doucet, tweeting Doucet "bombed" this season and needs to work harder. He also questioned Doucet's credentials as No. 2 receiver, even though Doucet is the third receiver behind Fitzgerald and starter Andre Roberts. Such criticism would seem to put the younger Fitzgerald in an awkward position. How would the elder Fitzgerald know whether Doucet is putting in the work?

"I just know that Larry invited him to come and work out with him this summer and some guys take initiative and do it, some guys don't," the elder Fitzgerald said when contacted Monday. "But with the lockout, I thought he would have worked on it a little harder. That is me. People criticize me because they think I talk too much. That is just how I see it."

Put yourself in Doucet's position. You've become the team's primary threat on third down. You have 53 receptions for 682 yards and five touchdowns, easily doubling single-season career totals from previous seasons. You have actually outperformed your status as the third receiver, producing at a higher level than Roberts, the No. 2. Your 20-yard reception on third-and-10 with 13:31 remaining against Cincinnati on Saturday marked the first time Arizona crossed midfield. But the game ended poorly when you tripped while trying to make the game-tying catch in the fourth quarter. You felt horrible about it, owned up to the error and now you've got Larry Fitzgerald's dad questioning your devotion to the game.

"I wasn't picking on him," Fitzgerald Sr. said. "I track when he drops the ball in critical situations. They use Larry the way they are going to use him, so they know others are going to be singled [in coverage]. The Ravens game, he dropped one on the goal line. I remember other games. Now that they're out of the playoffs, I'm putting it out there."

Doucet entered Week 16 with three drops in 86 targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That percentage (3.5) ranked 70th out of 168 players with at least 25 targets. Fitzgerald ranked first with only one drop in 121 targets (0.8 percent).

On a side note, Doucet easily could have slipped out of the Cardinals' locker room without addressing reporters Saturday. It was Christmas Eve, the team was on the road and relatively few Arizona reporters had made the holiday trip. Instead, Doucet hung around, waiting for reporters to finish speaking with coach Ken Whisenhunt. He gets some credit for that and also for the contributions he's made this season -- even if he hasn't always performed with consistency.

Update: Doucet underwent offseason surgery and was not cleared to return until August. He was limited when training camp began. That could explain why he did not accept an invitation to work out with Fitzgerald.