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Dealing Cards: Carson Palmer practices, Chris Johnson not bitter

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hands the ball to running back Chris Johnson (23) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Professional athletes, regardless of the sport, are all about the routine. They are creatures of habit, which is why it was so unusual when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer stopped practicing on Wednesdays late last season.

The reason, according to all those involved, was to keep Palmer’s right arm fresh for Sundays.

And it worked.

Until this past Sunday, when Palmer and the offense struggled mightily in Detroit.

So, were those struggles why Palmer arrived inside the practice bubble in full pads on Wednesday, a clear sign he was ready for that day’s work? Or did it have more to do with David Johnson’s injury and the likelihood of changes within the offensive framework given Johnson’s absence until mid-to-late December?

Head coach Bruce Arians provided no answers.

“If you’re wondering why Larry (Fitzgerald) and Carson practiced, I set the damn schedule (expletive) two months ago,” he said, before the topic could be addressed by reporters. “I’m not answering questions about why they practiced. The schedule’s been set for two months, so put that to bed.”

To his credit, Palmer has always enjoyed practicing, so the change to his routine was minimal.

“It felt good. I got out of the game feeling really good,” he said. “We had a full-padded practice today. It was loud. The scout teams were coming off the ball, which makes the starters come off the ball. So, it was a really good Wednesday for us.”

Next. Man. Up.

The opportunity to start an NFL game is what every player dreams of, and running back Kerwynn Williams is no exception.

After four seasons and countless times being released, Williams will be handed the reins this Sunday in Indianapolis. Arians said Williams will start with Andre Ellington used on third down. Chris Johnson will also get some touches.

“It’s definitely exciting. It’s definitely an opportunity I haven’t had before,” said Williams, a former seventh-round draft pick of the Colts. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m definitely excited for the opportunity ahead of me.”

Williams added his week’s preparation won’t change just because he’s starting. He always prepares as if his name will be called. Staying ready is what’s kept him in the league this long.

Williams will also maintain his role on special teams as both the Cardinals kickoff and punt returner.

“I feel like you always got to be confidence in yourself. I think that’s the one thing that remains constant is your confidence in yourself,” he said. “There are things that go wrong in your career or other people might see you a certain way, I don’t feel like you can be worried about that. The one thing that’s remained constant in my career is that I’ve always been confident in myself.”

Williams has been in his spot before. When David Johnson got hurt in L.A. last season, it was Williams who rushed for a team-high 60 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m never really concerned with filling in and doing exactly what someone else has done,” he said. “All I can be is the best me and that’s all I should be.”

Welcome back CJ2K

The decision to release Chris Johnson was a difficult one Arians acknowledged after the 53-man roster had been announced.

It was also a surprising decision to Johnson. But, no, he wasn’t bitter toward the Cardinals.

“Just bitter toward being cut, period,” he said Wednesday. “I know the type of player that I am. Being that it was unexpected, I didn’t ever think that would happen. Of course there was bitterness, but I couldn’t dwell on it. Just made sure I stayed in shape to be ready for whatever opportunity I had coming towards me.”

Johnson called it weird watching Week 1 from his house.

As far as how the Cardinals might use him now that he’s back, Johnson, who is 463 rushing yards shy of 10,000 for his career, is unsure about his role.

“I’m just trying to help the team win and wherever I can help, I can help,” he said.

Injury report

After missing the season opener, both dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (calf) practiced on Wednesday, though both were limited.

“Just bring him back slow,” Arians said, referring to Bucannon. “Robert should be back full speed (Thursday).”

Five players missed practice: wide receiver John Brown (quadriceps), linebacker Karlos Dansby (shin), tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs), tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and guard Mike Iupati (guard).

For the Colts, safety Darius Butler (hamstring), wide receiver Chester Rogers (hamstring), guard Ian Silberman (lumbar), tackle Jeremy Vujnovich (ankle) and nose tackle Al Woods (knee) were all limited participants.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) and center Ryan Kelly (center) did not practice. Neither did quarterback Andrew Luck (right shoulder) plus linebackers Antonio Morrison (elbow) and Anthony Walker (hamstring)

Luck has already been ruled out for the game.

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