TEMPE, Ariz. — Ask quarterback Carson Palmer to compare day one of year one versus day one of year two and the veteran signal caller starts smiling.
“Comparing today to a year ago this day, there’s zero comparison. This was fun. This was enjoyable,” he said.
The Cardinals held the first of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or OTAs, Tuesday. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are allowed during what the NFL refers to as Phase Three of the voluntary offseason workout program.
The Cardinals worked out in helmets and shorts for roughly two hours as temperatures hit in the low-90s.
A slight breeze helped, but not as much as having a full season in Bruce Arians’ system under their belts.
“No comparison. No comparison. It’s hard to gauge that,” Palmer answered when asked about his comfort level this day as compared to a year ago. “The only way I can say—there’s no comparison.
“Myself and other guys were out here last year and just swimming; inside your head you’re thinking about 80 different things. Today I was thinking about one thing and that was my first progression, my second progression, my third progression. So, it was actually enjoyable. It wasn’t frustrating and all of the emotions you go through when you’re learning a new offense.”
Arians immediately noticed the difference.
“He’s coaching the guys. Last year he was learning, now he’s coaching,” he said of Palmer. “They’re getting on the same page, talking — every play you see him come back and there’s good dialogue on what they saw, ‘why did you break out, why did you break in,’ so yeah, that’s by far the best part.”
Palmer, who turns 35 in December, passed for more than 4,000 yards for a second straight year in 2013. He threw 24 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions, which was a career-high, but only nine of those came in the final nine games when the Cardinals closed with a 7-2 record to finish 10-6, one game out of the playoffs.
In other words, Palmer is excited about 2014.
“We’ve got a ton of work to do, a long way to go,” he said. “But it just feels so good to be confident and be comfortable and know that guys around you know what they’re doing and know that you know what you’re doing. There’s not a shadow of a doubt on certain plays where there was in the past like there are in new systems and new offenses.
“Just a great start and a long way to go.”