Kolb praises Fitz contract, Williams has surgery
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals returned for the final four days at their high country training camp with their star wide receiver's wallet comfortably stuffed for years to come.
That sunny note was accompanied by a bit of a downer, with their promising young running back sidelined for the season.
Larry Fitzgerald, fresh off agreeing to an eight-year, $120 million deal with guarantees approaching $50 million, made a few spectacular catches of Kevin Kolb's passes during Monday's late afternoon workout. Earlier in the day, Kolb praised Fitzgerald's deal and said he hopes for a long partnership.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald said rookie running back Ryan Williams underwent surgery Monday to repair a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee. Williams was injured in the third quarter of Saturday night's 28-20 loss at the Green Bay Packers.
On Monday, the team brought back William Powell, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State who had been released by the Cardinals on Aug. 2. That addition is mainly to have a fourth running back for practices. The Cardinals will be looking to add a running back for the regular season as other teams begin making their roster cuts in the coming days.
"I don't see a sense of panic at this particular time," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "If somebody comes available that's going to help our team -- which next week is a situation that may happen -- then we'll address it."
The Cardinals were down to two quarterbacks in Monday's practice after Max Hall left with what the team said was a left shoulder injury. Backup John Skelton watched the practice wearing a boot on his right foot after spraining his ankle against the Packers. That left only Kolb and Chris Redmond at the position.
Kolb called the new contract for Fitzgerald "very important."
"We already have a little bit of chemistry there and hope to build on that," said Kolb, who signed a five-year contract worth just under $64 million after he was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in July. "Now both of us are locked up for a long time, so hopefully we can build this thing for the future."
Fitzgerald said the feeling is mutual.
"I want to be here a long time. I've enjoyed working with him thus far and I don't see any reason that's going to change," Fitzgerald said.
There was nothing unusual about the first practice after the contract agreement.
"It was a regular work day today," Fitzgerald said. "We looked pretty sharp. Kevin threw the ball good. We have some work to do. We've got a good game coming up against San Diego this weekend. We're going to play a lot, the starters will. We're going to get a good sense of where we are as a team."
Whisenhunt said Fitzgerald's contract is further evidence team president Michael Bidwill is serious about aggressively building and maintaining a winner.
"What Michael did as far as setting the tone for us this offseason goes a long way," Whisenhunt said. "He said we were going to be aggressive in free agency, that's what the Cardinals were going to do, and there's no question that's what we have done. There was a mention that we were going to get Larry done. We were motivated to do that before the season starts. You can say what you want to say. The deal is done. Larry's a great player. There's a lot of teams that would have liked to have had an opportunity at him and they didn't get it because our ownership stepped up. ... That means a lot to the stability of our team and I think our players recognize that."
Whisenhunt said Williams' injury will have no effect on the team's psyche.
"Everybody's disappointed for Ryan but I think they realize that's the NFL," the coach said, "that other players have to step up."
One player who could get more time with Williams out is Alfonso Smith, a second-year pro who spent last season on the practice squad.
"It's sad to have a teammate go down but I've got to capitalize on this opportunity," Smith said. "It's a blessing in disguise and I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing, which is helping my teammates and helping myself."
No. 1 running back Beanie Wells said the worst part of it is Williams is a good guy. But Wells said it will have no effect on him.
"I was working like I was carrying the load anyway," he said. "So I don't think I have to do anything different."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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