By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Jerry Rice is the measure by which all other wide receivers will be measured. He is arguably the greatest player in NFL history. Still, there are things that Larry Fitzgerald can do that even Jerry Rice couldn't. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Fitzgerald is a more explosive athlete than the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rice. He can leap better. He can run through people. He's faster. Couple Fitzgerald's humility - when told Bill Belichick described him as maybe the best receiver ever, Fitzgerald said, "It's an honor that he even knows my name to be honest with you." - with a practice squadder's effort level and you have a dream player and a nightmare matchup. And the Patriots are aware of this."It'll be an incredible challenge for us to go out there and compete against him," cornerback Devin McCourty said of Sunday's matchup with Fitzgerald and the Cardinals. "I think the biggest word for us is 'compete.' Without a doubt, he's going to make some plays,but we've got to go out there and challenge him each play. I think we know what he's capable of it's just going out there and trying to contain and be able to compete with him."The very best players - regardless of sport - are treated with that "only hope to contain him" reverence that McCourty's giving Fitzgerald. And when it comes to Fitzgerald, there is ample reason for it. Generally, if a ball goes up among agang of playersand Fitzgerald's the only one with a red bird on the side in the group, he will still come down with it. That's humbling to players. "He catches everything," McCourty said ruefully. "You see a lot of throws they throw to him, he's double covered -- sometimes three guys around him-- but somehow he still catches the ball. So when you've got a guy like that you I mean he just catches everything.""That's what's made him famous," added safety Steve Gregory. "Being covered by one, two, three guys and that ball goes up and he finds a way to come down with it. His body control is unlike anyone else so that's the type of guy we have to deal with."Fitzgerald was held in moderate check last week in the Cardinals' opener. He had four catches for 63 yards. Given the stoutness against the run of the Patriots front-seven and the need to feature their best player, it's a virtual certainty Fitzgerald is going to see the ball sent his way a dozen times or more on Sunday. And there is really no comp for the Patriots secondary to use as a guide. "That's probably why he's kind of a one-of-a-kind guy," said McCourty. "A lot of top receivers in the game are like that; you can compare him to a lot of different guys, but that's why they're kind of different because they're kind of their own breed."
No curbing enthusiasm when it comes to Fitz' skills
September 13, 2012, 1:18 pm