Nashville, Tenn. - Highlighted one-on-one matchups is usually a spotlight of almost every NFL game. However, for the Arizona Cardinals' training camp, it could help them return to the Super Bowl.
Larry Fitzgerald and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's one-on-one matchups during practice, helps bring the best out of them.
"There's too much talking," Rodgers-Cromartie said with a grin. "He's a real competitor. We get out there, yell and say, 'Let's get better today."
As competitors, their common battle includes self pride but not allowing the other to gain the advantage is a part of their ego. And it's necessary! The level of play Fitzgerald has accomplished and the one DRC's is fueling to become has ignited the bringing out the best of both athletes.
So they battle. Fitzgerald may use his hands and DRC may cut Fitzgerald off. Every pass in their direction becomes a mini-war, because they know it matters not only to them but to all the teammates that wait for the outcome as well as the fans.
"I don't talk on the field (during games), so I kind of do my talking on the practice field," Fitzgerald said. "DRC is an extremely talented man, it forces me to get better. He's so quick, he's so fast, he plays really well down the field where I excel at so it forces me to raise my level of play every day in practice."
With Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin one of the top receiving duos in the league, the arrival of DRC has been a benefactor to the Cardinal organization and the defensive back core who must defend one of the best offensive tandems in the NFL.
"You saw a little tussle," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "He came off and shocked me a little bit. He kind of got to me. And we wrassled to the ground and we got into it a little bit."
"I had to slam him down on his head," Fitzgerald said. "I am still chief when I am going against him. I didn't want him to think he was getting the best of me."
But as the battle goes neck-and-neck, DRC resort s to using psychological measures in order to get the edge.
"I have days when I can tell I am in his head, and he don't want to talk to me because he knows I am going to say something, and there are days when he is in my head and I don't want to talk to him," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You can tell who is having a better day by who is doing the talking."
However, even with the accolades, experience and Pro Bowls, Fitzgerald gives in; he can't beat DRC every time.
"You're not going to win every day," Fitzgerald said. "I just want to make sure the majority of time I have the upper hand. I beat him up a couple days ago, mentally, physically, emotionally. I want to keep it that way. But he has his days."