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January 31, 2009

Fitzgerald's a big Steve Smith fan

TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the most interesting, engaging players in interviews leading up to the Super Bowl this week was Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He's highly intelligent, thoughtful and didn't project an inflated self-image, which is pretty good considering he's probably been the best player of the postseason.

We're planning a feature on him for Sunday's paper, but I wanted to share with you in advance, in more detail than that story will cover, what Fitzgerald had to say about Panthers' wide receiver Steve Smith. It turns out he's quite an admirer of Smith.

When asked which other receivers he most likes to watch, Fitzgerald replied:

"I like to watch everybody. Any game I can watch, any tape I can watch, I try to pick up on a lot. Like Steve Smith, I think he's the best playmaker in the NFL. When he gets his hands on the ball, no matter where people are, he finds a way to get into the end zone. Torry Holt, he's an amazing route runner. Terrell Owens, a tremendous playmaker. Randy Moss (and) those guys, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, everybody has their things that I really enjoy watching. I try to take bits and pieces of each player I watch."

Fitzgerald spoke humbly about himself, deflecting suggestions that he might be the best receiver in the league. Since he has such an incredible knack for going up high for catches (remember his first reception in the playoff game against the Panthers?), I asked him if he thinks he and Smith are similar in their ability to make those kinds of plays. When Fitzgerald answered, he spoke only about Smith, not himself.

"Steve is little big man," he said. "They say he's 5-10 on the game guide, but he plays like he's 6-4. Did you see that catch he made against New Orleans late in the second half to clinch homefield advantage (in the playoffs)? I mean, that was amazing. He makes that play all the time. I think that's about desire and sheer want-to. He's not going to be denied, and as a receiver, you have to have that same mentality."

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 31, 2009 at 05:10 AM | Permalink


Chas, I've got to agree, L Fritz has been blessed w/some exceptional physical abilities, he's a student of the game, minus the 'tude and knows he can always learn more, I wouldn't be surprised he has passed all the Rice records when he hangs up the cleats.
It's also clear that he recognizes that his attitude will define him, cool that he also sees that in Super Steve.

Posted by: Jon in DC | Jan 31, 2009 6:28:04 AM

The more I read about anything that has to do with the Superbowl

The more pissed I become at this team

I was extremely mad when Larry said he's glad Gamble didn't follow him all game

Posted by: jake the snake | Jan 31, 2009 7:07:52 AM

fitz wants to share a desert with smith

Posted by: happy | Jan 31, 2009 8:11:54 AM

Fitz wants to eat Smittys corn flakes.

Posted by: jake | Jan 31, 2009 10:14:50 AM

Larry rox wr

Posted by: Me | Jan 31, 2009 12:44:02 PM

Can you imagine Steve Smith with Kurt Warner throwing him the ball for a 16 game season?

Posted by: I like Jake but.... | Jan 31, 2009 4:15:50 PM

Hey guys, check out this mock draft!

Posted by: James | Jan 31, 2009 5:02:39 PM

I have to be honest James, I clicked off of the mock draft the instant I saw that Matthew was going at #11. I think your mock draft needs more work.

Posted by: Revshawn | Jan 31, 2009 6:58:59 PM

What is everybody's prediction on who will win SuperBowl?????

Posted by: danny | Feb 1, 2009 1:08:42 AM

The Panthers hired Ron Meeks to be their next defensive coordinator on Jan. 26, but he won’t be given full authority over the club’s defense. The way we hear it, head coach John Fox will still have a big hand in what goes on with the unit, even though that may have added friction to the relationship with his last D-coordinator.

Meeks replaced Mike Trgovac, who turned down an offer to stay in Carolina, instead taking a step down the ladder of authority and joining the Packers’ staff as D-line coach. It’s uncommon to see coaches move downward under their own volition, but reports indicated Trgovac and other members of the Panthers’ staff were put off by the club’s delay in offering them new contracts, helping to fracture their ties. DB coach Tim Lewis, DE coach Sal Sunseri and LB coach Ken Flajole also decided to go elsewhere in recent weeks.

It’s certainly not uncommon for a head coach with a background like Fox’s, which included time as the Giants’ D-coordinator before he got the head job in Carolina, to be significantly involved with the defensive plans and calls. Word is, however, that Fox sat in on defensive meetings over the past few seasons. He can be stubborn and difficult to work with. Ultimately, Trgovac felt he’d be better off in Green Bay, despite likely having less authority than he had with the Panthers.

Meeks served as the Colts’ D-coordinator under Tony Dungy for the past seven seasons before resigning his post after Jim Caldwell was promoted as Dungy’s replacement. Meeks is a proponent of the Tampa-2 defense, and moving to that scheme wouldn’t be a major change for the Panthers. They had been playing a lot of zone coverage under Trgovac during his six seasons at the helm. It’s not yet clear just how different the Panthers’ scheme will look next season, but sources say some moderate changes are in the offing.

In addition to composing a staff following the mass exodus of defensive assistants, the trio of Meeks, Fox and GM Marty Hurney will have to come to a decision on their course of action with free-agent-to-be DE Julius Peppers, who has said he’d like to play for a different team next season. It is not believed that the hiring of Meeks had much of an effect on Peppers’ intention.

Posted by: danny | Feb 1, 2009 1:33:11 AM

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