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Cardinals QB Palmer excited about what he’s seen on field thus far

Arizona Cardinals NFL football quarterback Carson Palmer (3) runs drills during a voluntary team workout, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. The Arizona Cardinals have five quarterbacks on their roster. One big reason is a concerted effort to prevent Carson Palmer from doing much of anything in the offseason to preserve the arm strength of the 37-year-old quarterback. (AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals QB

There is no denying that Carson Palmer was not as good in 2016 as he was in 2015.

Yet, as the eye test revealed and the statistics confirm, he did play better over the second half of the 2016 season than the first, giving some reason to believe he’s not ready for a big drop off in 2017.

To wit: In his first eight games, Palmer threw for 2,444 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while over this final seven he passed for 1,789 yards but with 15 touchdowns and just six picks.

A guest of Bickley and Marotta on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Tuesday, Palmer said he’s not sure of what the perception of his season is and even if he knew, it’s irrelevant anyway.

“Quite frankly it just doesn’t matter, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all,” Palmer said. “What matters is what your coaches — are you executing the game plan, are you doing what’s best for this team to get a win? So that’s really the only thing I look at or worry about.

“As far as outside chatter, no quarterback can listen to that. If you do, it’s a slippery slope.”

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft out of USC, Palmer is entering his fifth season with the Cardinals and 15th in the NFL, and in that time he has seen quarterbacks who let the outside noise get to them.

“They don’t fare too well or last very long,” he said. “I focus on my job, I focus on what I’m coached to do, making sure I’m doing what’s expected of me and asked of me within each play.”

That said, Palmer added he felt like the team finished the season strong, which impressed him because it would have been easy to kind of mail things in once the playoffs were no longer a realistic option. Winning the final two games, on the road in Seattle and then in Los Angeles, showed the team had no quit in it.

“I think it was a good sign going into this season,” Palmer said. “It showed that we’re not that kind of team, we’re not that kind of organization, because there’s a lot of those out there and that’s not the Cardinals.

“It was just really good to see, it was good to be a part of and I think we will reap the benefits of the way we finished and the professionalism to go into Seattle, to go into L.A. — again, it’s a pat on the back, it does nothing, it means nothing — but to the guys in the locker room that are back, I think that’s kind of where we take off where we left off.”

The idea of one season being a springboard for the next is one not all agree on given that rosters change and bounces that went a team’s way one season may not the next.

For the Cardinals, who went into 2016 with Super Bowl aspirations only to fall considerably short, they almost have to believe the late success will carry over.

It is, after all, something to hold onto and could provide belief that 2016 was the anomaly.

That and, of course, the fact that the Cardinals still have a pretty talented roster. Palmer admitted that while he still very much enjoys the process of being an NFL player, if he did not feel like the team could compete at a high level he would have been less inclined to return this season.

Though the Cardinals were just 7-8-1 last season, it was one year prior when they won 13 games and were a victory away from playing in the Super Bowl.

No one knows just how good the team will be in 2017, but as of now, Palmer is excited about what he has seen on the field.

“I just love the look of those two guys on the edge with Junk (Markus Golden) and Chandler (Jones) coming off the edge; that’s a lot to deal with week-in and week-out,” he said. “The additions of Karlos (Dansby) and getting guys back healthy — Tyvon (Branch) looks back and healthy.”

Palmer raved about the defensive front, saying it’s hard to tell who the best of the group is because they are all playing at a high level, before adding second-year pro Robert Nkemdiche is also coming along.

As for the offense, the QB praised the return to form of receiver John Brown as well as the continued excellence from running back David Johnson and wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

He also said receiver Aaron Dobson has “had a great spring” and said Brittan Golden has had a great camp, too.

“He’s caught every single thing thrown his way and he’s one of the most consistent route runners we have,” Palmer said of Golden. “So there’s a ton to be excited about; I could go on and on. I haven’t even got to the offensive line, and there’s great competition going on with those guys up front right now, too.”

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