Fitzgerald, who was a ball boy for the Vikings in 1998 when Randy Moss and Cris Carter set the world on fire, is returning to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Sunday. He brings with him one of the most complete offensive packages there is, which has the potentially shorthanded Vikings secondary looking with a concerned eye towards the Cardinals star receiver.
"There's no questioning what he has done in his career," said Asher Allen, who expected to be part of the Vikings' nickel defensive package if Winfield is out. "He does it all. He runs great routes. He is dangerous down the field. He has the speed to get deep. He is one of the best wide receivers in the league and we're going to have to account for him."
That may be easier said than done. In the last five full seasons, Fitzgerald has caught 90 more passes for more than 1,000 yards in each, topping 100 catches twice and 1,400 receiving yards three times. Despite getting blanket coverage most games, he is on pace for similar numbers. Through four games, he has caught 23 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Sixteen of his 23 catches have resulted in first downs, six of them have gone for 20 or more yards and two of them have gone for 40-plus yards. That is enough to get the attention of the Vikings defense.
"It seems like everybody has a big-play receiver," Jamarca Sanford said. "Larry Fitzgerald is at the top of that category. He has shown over the years that he can make a lot of big plays and makes the tough catch. He is one of the best at his position in the league, but we can't go changing what we do just to try to stop him. If you do that, they have other guys who can hurt you. He's an important part of their offense, but not the only part."
Fitzgerald may not be the only part of the Arizona offense, but he is clearly the most important piece and will be one of the keys to winning or losing Sunday.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.