TEMPE, Ariz. — Like a kid on Christmas, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer cannot wait to unwrap the gifts he received in the offseason.
Thanks to GM Steve Keim, who did his best Santa Claus impersonation, Palmer now has a wide receiver that can stretch the field (Ted Ginn, Jr.) and a pair of tight ends (Jake Ballard and John Carlson), giving him two more valuable weapons and another added dimension to the offense.
But that’s not all.
“There’s a young guy that’s going to turn some heads here soon. He’s still down there on the rookie field,” Palmer said referring to receiver John Brown, the Cardinals third-round draft pick who has made an impactful impression in just a short amount of time.”
Brown and Ginn, Jr. bring that legitimate speed element that the Cardinals were missing last season.
“It changes the offense,” Palmer said after the team’s first OTA workout on Tuesday. “When you add that type of explosion and that type of dynamic player that those two guys are, it’s something we didn’t have last year. It’s something that really opens up this offense and really forces defenses to cover every part of the field and the entire field.”
It remains to be seen whether what Brown is doing in helmet and shorts without contact will translate over to when the pads are put on and the hitting becomes real.
Ginn, Jr. though is a proven seven-year veteran. Last season in Carolina, he had 36 catches for 556 yards and five touchdowns, his best production in five years.
Then there are Ballard and Carlson.
“John Carlson has looked phenomenal,” Palmer said. “He’s picked up the offense quick. Extremely athletic. He made one catch that you don’t see many guys making today on an over route. And Jake Ballard has come back strong. And Robbie (Housler) has got a lot of competition and Robbie is fighting his butt off.”
The Cardinals would like to see more offense from the tight end position.
It’s why they re-signed Ballard (seven catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns) and added Carlson (32 catches for 344 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota).
“That’s one of the things Coach (Bruce) Arians likes to do a lot of is use multiple tight end sets,” Palmer said. “He likes to use guys that can catch the ball and can run but also guys that can get down and block defensive ends and block guys in the run game. It just gives us—we’re a little bit more diverse. We have a bunch of different bodies, guys with different skill sets, different strengths, different weaknesses. I think (Arians) is going to get a really good feel for how each guy can help us, in different ways that each guy can help us.
“So, a lot of new targets, a lot of new faces and I’m just excited to continue to get better with them.”