The Patriots' task against the Cardinals on Sunday just got a little bit easier.
Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald reportedly won't play against New England this weekend after testing positive for COVID-19, according to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero.
Now the question becomes if any other Cardinals players had close contact with Fitzgerald and would also need to be ruled out.
The 37-year-old is coming off one of his best games of the season, an 8-catch, 62-yard effort against the Seahawks in Week 11, and he's made at least one reception in 254 games, the second-longest streak in NFL history behind only Jerry Rice. He also has three touchdown catches in four career games against the Patriots, including a pair of TD grabs in the teams' last matchup in 2016.
How impressive is Fitzgerald? On Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick mentioned him in the same breath as two legendary players.
"He’s, I would say, to receivers what Peyton Manning was to quarterbacks in terms of that type of total obsession of knowing everything about the position and how to do things and how to convey those to his teammates," Belichick said. "He’s had tremendous production. I mean, other than Jerry Rice, those two guys are really at the top of the production list in just about every area... He’s a tremendous player and he’s had a tremendous career."
Fitzgerald has also been a model of consistency over his 17-year career. This will be the first game he's missed since 2014 -- and only the seventh game he's missed since entering the league as the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Even without the future Hall of Famer in the lineup, the Arizona offense led by Kyler Murray still poses considerable challenges for the Patriots defense, starting with DeAndre Hopkins (whom Stephon Gilmore will likely defend, as he alluded to earlier this week), along with deep threat Christian Kirk plus running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.