Fitzgerald, Belichick trade praise

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Larry Fitzgerald was going through the pre-draft process in 2004, he remembered a meeting with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and then-coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel at the NFL combine.

It was at that time that he gained a better feel for how Belichick operates.

[+] EnlargeLarry Fitzgerald
Jason Miller/Getty ImagesWhat would you trade to acquire Larry Fitzgerald? No, he's not available, but it's fun to dream.
"I could understand why they’ve had so much success because they deal with a cerebral kind of football player,” Fitzgerald said in a February 2011 interview with ESPNBoston.com.

Belichick would have loved to land Fitzgerald in the draft, but the wide receiver was well out of the team's range that year. Now Belichick will attempt to draw up a plan to limit the perennial Pro Bowler, as the Patriots host the Cardinals on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Belichick said Fitzgerald will "go down as one of the all-time greats, and might end up being the best one ever."

On Wednesday, Fitzgerald was asked his response to that.

"That’s what he said?" Fitzgerald asked when informed of Belichick's remarks. "It’s an honor that he even knows my name to be honest with you. He’s arguably the best coach to ever do it. You look at his record and what he’s been able to accomplish over his career. He’s an unbelievable football coach.

"I have a long way to go. I have a lot to improve on and a lot to work on. Obviously I’m envious of him with all his hardware he has and his team has."

Fitzgerald knows that Belichick and the Patriots' coaching staff will have a solid plan to attempt to limit him.

"Playing against the Patriots defense there’s not much space to make any catches. I have to find space in that zone, space in that man," he said. "Coach [Matt] Patricia does a terrific job of changing things up and disguising his coverages and I have to worry about that first and foremost just being able to get in space and be able to get my hands on the ball before I can make any plays.

"This is a team game. This is about the Arizona Cardinals as a unit playing much better than we did the last time we were in Foxborough. There’s not a lot of guys on this team from the 2008 year, but we remember that butt-kicking we took up there in 2008 out there and that didn’t sit well with us then and four years later it still stings. We definitely want to go out there and have a much better performance."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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