Hartman: State trio back with Cardinals to face Vikings this weekend

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2014 - 12:48 AM

Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Carlson will return for their second preseason game.

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Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr.

Photo: Matt York, Associated Press

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Minnesotans will get to see a unique situation when the Arizona Cardinals play the Vikings on Saturday, because the team features three offensive players who all played their high school football in Minnesota: wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald Jr. of Holy Angels and Michael Floyd of Cretin-Derham Hall, and tight end John Carlson, who played at Litchfield and signed with the Cardinals after two tough seasons with the Vikings.

Fitzgerald is the longest-tenured wide receiver with the team, after being drafted by the Cardinals with the third overall pick in the 2004 draft. He has had amazing success in Arizona: eight Pro Bowls, a first-team All-Pro in 2008, and second-team All-Pro in 2009 and 2011. He also reached the Super Bowl in 2008 and signed an eight-year contract extension in 2011 for $120 million.

Last season, Fitzgerald became the youngest receiver to reach 11,000 receiving yards at 30 years and 85 days, surpassing former Vikings star Randy Moss. Fitzgerald finished the season with 82 receptions for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Floyd is entering his third NFL season after having a breakout year in 2013 with 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns. He caught 45 passes for 562 yards and two scores in his rookie season. Floyd, like Fitzgerald, was a first-round selection by the Cardinals, taken 13th overall in 2012 out of Notre Dame.

Floyd still has two years left on his four-year, $9.972 million rookie contract he signed in 2012 and will be a free agent in 2016.

Carlson, like Floyd, attended Notre Dame, and he joined Arizona after a couple of injury-plagued seasons with his hometown Vikings. In 2012, he grabbed only eight receptions for 43 yards with the Vikings, but last year he caught 32 passes for 344 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals said they are hoping that Carlson can keep that form and even return to his standout days with the Seattle Seahawks. One of the big concerns though for Carlson is concussion issues, but he hopes to put all of that behind him.

“I did everything I could to be as healthy as I could be over the course of the offseason,” Carlson told the Cardinals website. “As a football player, I’m concerned about my health. As a husband and father, I’m conscious of the risks associated with football, but I feel very confident in the things I did over the course of the offseason to get as healthy as I can be. I feel great right now, so I’m not concerned. Injuries happen in football, whether things have happened in the past or not.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the team weighed concerns over Carlson’s injury history against his talent when they signed him to a two-year, $4.65 million deal.

“His résumé speaks for itself,” Arians told the team’s website. “It’s just a matter of staying healthy.”

In Arizona’s first preseason game, a 32-0 victory over the Houston Texans, Fitzgerald was the only one to catch a pass out of the three Minnesotans, grabbing two receptions for 11 yards and a touchdown.

The receiver that the Vikings might have to keep an eye on is rookie John Brown, who had five receptions for 87 yards.

The third-round pick out of Division II Pittsburg State, where Gophers coach Jerry Kill was once the coach, is drawing great reviews from Arizona General Manager Steve Keim.

“I haven’t seen a rookie come in and do what he’s done — and it’s early still — since Anquan Boldin,” Keim told ESPN. “This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time.”

While the Vikings defense didn’t face a tough offensive collection in the Raiders, they will get a good test against the Cardinals this weekend.

Winter Park upgrade

Now that the new Vikings stadium is a reality, don’t be surprised if the Wilf family starts planning a modernized version of Winter Park, or simply builds a new practice facility.

And the big wigs in town who know what is going on remain certain that U.S. Bank will purchase the naming rights on the stadium.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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