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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Best way to slow the Cardinals' Fitzgerald

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' signing of Ken Lucas might help Seattle at least slow Larry Fitzgerald's stunning production against the team. He also mentions the need for an improved pass rush.

More specifically, I would point to the need for Patrick Kerney. Kerney missed both games against Arizona last season. Fitzgerald caught 15 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in those games. Seattle had lots of other problems in those games, of course, but Kerney's presence against Arizona makes a big difference. In 2007, when Kerney played all 16 games, Fitzgerald caught 13 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown against Seattle. Kerney had a three-sack game against the Cardinals that season.

The Seahawks probably are not going to beat the Cardinals in Arizona. They haven't won there since the 2005 season. Beating Arizona in Seattle is much more feasible if Kerney is healthy because crowd noise heightens Kerney's quickness advantage against tackle Levi Brown. Kerney's three-sack game against the Cardinals in 2007 came at Qwest Field.

From a coverage standpoint, former Cardinals cornerback Rod Hood offered this advice to anyone trying to match up against Fitzgerald: Jam him at the line of scrimmage, buying time to see the ball in the air. "Because if I jump up blindly or if I let him catch the ball and try to break it out of his hands," Hood said, "there is almost a 90 percent chance he is going to catch the ball."

The 49ers' Nate Clements has had some success playing this way against Fitzgerald. I also thought Justin Smith was excellent in the game at Arizona, a helping the corners.