New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick showered the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald with praise on Wednesday, calling him the “Peyton Manning of wide receivers” during a media conference call. One day later, Fitzgerald is in the news again albeit for all the wrong reasons: according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero, the 37-year-old has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
Fitzgerald will now be moved to the league’s Reserve/Covid-19 list and naturally miss Sunday’s game in New England. While the contest does currently not appear to be in danger of being postponed, the situation will be one worth keeping a close eye on considering how fast the virus can spread through organizations — something the Patriots know all too well after their own outbreak in early October.
Back then, quarterback Cam Newton tested positive with seven more players later joining him in isolation as well. As a result of this development, two of New England’s games had to be rescheduled: the Week 4 game versus the Kansas City Chiefs was moved back one day, the Week 5 matchup against the Denver Broncos a whole week.
At the moment, the upcoming game against the Cardinals is still scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday with the team to depart Arizona one day before that. Fitzgerald will not be part of the journey, but the question now becomes whether or not he will remain the lone absentee or if others will join him as identified close contacts.
As for the game itself, Fitzgerald is obviously a loss for the Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray. The future Hall of Famer is not just the team’s elder statesman, after all, he also has been its number two wideout behind DeAndre Hopkins: the 37-year-old has been on the field for 80 percent of Arizona’s offensive snaps through 10 games and has caught 43 passes for 336 yards — ranking second on the team in catches and third in receiving yards.
With Fitzgerald out, fellow wideouts Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella are projected to play bigger roles within the offense.