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AP: eb5a54ca-d03a-483b-b0a3-4f772f2cb9c2
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, left, talks with quarterback Carson Palmer (3) during the Cardinals Red & White scrimmage at NFL football training camp on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A small town is easily confused.  A small town spends too much time around the punch bowl.  A small town gets overly excited when its teams win meaningless games.

Like when the Suns made the finals of the NBA Summer League.  Or when Coyotes fans believe the media is out to get their hockey team.  Or when the Cardinals beat up the Packers in the first game of the preseason, and renewed optimism fills the Valley.

The greatest team in history -- the 1985 Bears -- went 1-3 in the preseason.

But here's what I like about the debut of the 2013 Cardinals. Here's what I think is real and meaningful from their first preseason game: Against the Packers, the Cardinals' offensive line showed a real ability to pass protect over the course of an entire game. They kept Carson Palmer clean.  They allowed him to throw comfortably out of his own end zone. They allowed him to keep his eyes on receivers racing down the field. Some of this is due to better depth and better players on the offensive line.  But part of it is better schematics. Head coach Bruce Arians and assistant Tom Moore vowed to construct the offense from the ground up, starting with a highly-efficient line.  They haven't broken a promise yet.

So, a word of caution:  In every form of human competition, it's very dangerous to draw any conclusions when the outcome doesn't matter.   

If the outcome doesn't matter, it really isn't sports.

But if Arians succeeds in building a fortress around Palmer, he might actually have the sleeper team in the division, maybe even the conference. And he'll have shown more touch at grooming a quarterback than his predecessor ever did.

Dan Bickley, Host Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta

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