Fitzgerald is not cleared yet from concussion

Updated: December 16, 2013, 7:29 PM ET


By
Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com


TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald passed one set of concussion tests before leaving LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday but is still going through the league’s concussion protocol.

“That’s still a long ways to go from being cleared,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during his Monday afternoon news conference.

Fitzgerald wasn’t the only starter injured Sunday. Quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a low-grade high ankle sprain and safety Rashad Johnson also had a high ankle sprain.

Fitzgerald “looked fine” when Arians saw the All-Pro in the Cardinals’ practice facility on Monday morning. Fitzgerald was hurt during an onside kick with 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Fitzgerald, on the field as part of the Cardinals’ hands team, got a hold of Rob Bironas‘ kick in midair and was hit by Tennessee’s Jackie Battle, in what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet collision.

Fitzgerald lost the ball, which was recovered by Titans safety Daimion Stafford, and Tennessee tied the game at 34 on the ensuing possession when Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Michael Preston for an 8-yard touchdown to cap a 54-yard drive that took 44 seconds. Arizona won in overtime, 37-34, on a 41-yard field goal by Jay Feely.

In the aftermath of the Fitzgerald injury, Arians believes that players who field onside kicks that hit the ground first should be considered defenseless, thus making that kind of hit on Fitzgerald illegal. According to the NFL rule book, there are eight types of defenseless players and just one involves kick and punt returners, but only if the kick is fielded in the air.

“I think it’s something the competition committee is going to have to address because they’re not defenseless players on the grounded kick,” Arians said. “We didn’t do a good job of blocking the guy that hit Larry. A rookie made a mistake and got fooled. Onside kicks are part of the game. I’d hate to see them change. That one will be addressed.”

Palmer suffered a high left ankle sprain in the third quarter that initially looked worse than the official diagnosis. The injuries continue to pile up for Palmer, who played the last two weeks with a sore right throwing elbow.

Arians felt fortunate that Palmer has been durable this season, especially with the amount of hits he’s taken. Palmer has been sacked 38 times in 14 games. Arians was especially concerned after Palmer was hit by Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, who was flagged for roughing the passer, that Palmer wouldn’t be able to execute the handoff on the next play, a one-yard touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall in the first quarter.

“I’m sure [Palmer will] be fine,” Arians said. “I would like to have him as mobile as possible against this pass rush and that noise [in Seattle]. It’s going to be extremely difficult but it is what it is.”

The one injury Arians seemed to be most concerned about was Johnson’s. His high ankle sprain could force him to miss Sunday’s game in Seattle, which would mean the Cardinals would start their third different free safety in as many weeks. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu was lost for the season against St. Louis and Johnson took his place, and if he can’t go, rookie Tony Jefferson will get the start and Curtis Taylor will be his backup.

“I’m concerned that we lost both our safeties in the last two weeks,” Arians said. “We’re down to a rookie but it’s Week 15 or 16, whatever the heck it is. He’s not really a rookie anymore.

“Curtis hasn’t played any, so if he’s out there, I’ll be a little worried because of the drop off from Tyrann and Rashad.”

  • Covered Cardinals for azcardinals.com
  • Received Master’s of Sports Journalism and Bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University

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