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Carson Chats: Super Bowl expectations are exciting

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2016, file photo, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer stands on the sideline during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, in San Diego. Palmer and the rest of the first-team Arizona had a tough night in San Diego, but the Cardinals quarterback is certain the team will get rolling once games count for real. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Carson Palmer, now in his fourth season as the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback, meets with the media once a week during the season to answer some questions.

Here in this space, with help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we will highlight the best of what he had to say, and this week he discussed his feelings as the team prepares for its Week 1 matchup against the New England Patriots.

On how this year’s Cardinals compares to the 2015 Cardinals

“It’s tough to tell now. It’s a lot easier to say at the end of the year. But we’re a very focused group. A majority of the guys on the team have been here for a while, so they understand the way things work as far as the way we prepare and the way we practice. We’ve got a lot of veterans. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been around. We’ve got a lot of young talent. So, it’s just a very good, very solid group, top to bottom, in every position meeting room and at every spot on the field. It’s a deep, deep team and just a very solid team.”

On whether he sees something unexpected from Bill Belichick and the Patriots early in a game

“Tough to say. It just depends on the game or the situation. There’s a reason he’s so well respected. He’s that good of a coach and he’s got all the respect you could ask for from our team. We’re preparing as if it’s the first game and there are a lot of new things. You try to prepare for everything. You never can. You just try to react as well as you can and we’re coached up extremely well on seeing new looks, on how to react to them, on how to talk about them on the sidelines and how to move forward with them.”

On how fortunate he is to have lasted this long in the NFL and to be in the situation he’s in with Arizona

“Extremely blessed. I never would have guessed I would have gotten the opportunity to play for 14 years when I was that kid in his backyard with his helmet on, pretending like there are guys trying to tackle me and trying to run from one side of the backyard to the other. There’s no doubt I’m extremely blessed and blessed to be here, to be in this situation with this team because I know how hard it is, and how difficult it is, to find the right situation, or be drafted into the right situation. It’s very rare, and getting to play this game this long is rare. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed the end so much more than every part of the career, because I understand how special just each day is. Each Labor Day weekend. Each first bonus practice Tuesday of the season. The first practice Wednesday. The opener. All those things are so special. You want to just soak them up and enjoy them.”

On what it means to be in a situation where the team has Super Bowl expectations and not just Super Bowl aspirations

“It’s just exciting. Knowing week in and week out, that if you go out and execute and play your best, you can beat anybody, because it’s not that way on every team. It’s, like I said, a very unique group of guys. Guys that are great to come to work with, guys that aren’t just going through the motions. We don’t have that. We don’t have guys that are just happy to be on the team. We have guys who are fighting for a spot and want the guy in front of them’s job. We’ve got vets that are trying to prove themselves over and over again, even though they’ve already proved themselves. We’ve got a really good collection of the right-minded guys.”

On what it feels like to be the quarterback of a team that has such high expectations

“It’s great, because people are right. We are pretty good. Now we’ve got to go out and play it and prove it and back that up. But to be on a team that you know has a shot, that people are putting a circle around you on their schedule and a bull’s-eye on you – everybody in our division is just because we won it last year. So, it’s a good thing.”

On whether there’s a higher level of anticipation going into this season based on how far the team went last year and because they struggled in the NFC Conference Championship game

“No, I think everybody gets so excited, especially for the opener, but for a new season. First, you get excited to get out of training camp and get out of the hotel. Then all of a sudden, it’s here. That fourth preseason game, all you’re thinking about as you’re getting ready to play the Broncos, is getting ready to play the Patriots really. Aside from what’s happened before, I think this team, and we as a group are excited to get the regular season going, because it’s another opportunity and it’s another season.”

On how the offensive line is progressing with a new center and a new right side of the offensive line

“A.Q. (Shipley) is not totally new. He’s been here. He doesn’t have a ton of snaps under his belt with these guys and with me at quarterback, but he doesn’t seem like a new guy at all. He was very involved last year. He was ready to play at the drop of a hat. All last year, he was in sync with everything we were doing with the protection. He’s extremely smart, extremely sharp. So he doesn’t seem as much like a new guy as say a guy that comes in in free agency, right off the street. It’s been a really good transition. D.J. (Humphries) is kind of the same way. He was very involved last year, just trying to learn. He’s not as advanced as A.Q. is just because he doesn’t have the years in, but D.J.’s had a really smooth transition coming in. He had that 16-week season last year to really sit back and learn. Evan’s (Mathis) played on a bunch of teams, played in a bunch of systems and had a ton of success. It doesn’t really seem like he’s all that new either. He just kind of jells with whatever group, whatever team, he plays on. He fits right in. Whether it’s last year, where he was running a lot of outside zone plays and cutting the backsides, and we don’t really do a whole lot of that in this system, so it’s a totally different system for him. But, he’s really transitioned really well and it’s been really smooth.”

On how he would describe the depth and talent of Arizona’s skill position players

“Just very deep. Jaron Brown’s had a great camp. He’s had a great career since he’s been here. Every time his number’s been called, he’s come in and made plays. It’s a very deep group. It’s a lot like what I said earlier: there’s guys like Larry (Fitzgerald), who have been playing forever, to guys like Smokey (John Brown), who only has a couple years under his belt but has had a lot of success in those short years. It’s just a very deep group that just gets it. They understand the system. They understand each other. They’re not all begging for the ball and throwing their hands up in the air. There are no prima donnas. They just come in and work.”

On whether the same applies to Arizona’s running back corps

“Yeah. Dave (Johnson) is in his second year and Chris (Johnson), for a running back, he’s ancient, but he doesn’t look it. He is hungry. He’s had a great camp. It’s so nice to know that when Dave needs a breather, the guy that’s coming in is a guy like Chris Johnson. Then if he needs a breather, a guy that’s had a ton of success and been our starter before in Andre (Ellington), so just a very deep group.”

On whether he’s seen more of Chris Johnson’s ability in the passing game as compared to last season

“Yeah, he came in so late that it was like, ‘He just needs to learn the run game and then Dave will do, and Andre will do, all the pass game stuff.’ Because he came in, I think, Week 2 or 3 of camp last year, but now that he’s had an entire offseason, the OTAs, all of training camp, the vet mini, all of those things, he’s doing all the same stuff Dave is. And Dre is doing all the same stuff that both of them are. He hasn’t been forced to just focus on one thing because he’s only been here for so long. He’s come in and learned everything this offseason and doing all the same stuff we expect Dave to do.”

On whether Arizona’s tight ends are pass catchers as well as blockers

“Yeah, I think they’re all very similar. They’re all 6-6-ish. They all can block defensive ends and they all can run wheel routes, posts, and a lot of things you don’t see tight ends typically doing. They can stretch the field and they’re all just so long. You can leave the ball high when a six-foot safety is covering them. They’re very, very long, especially Darren (Fells). Darren’s a post-you-up kind of guy, especially in the red zone with his basketball background. That position over my time here has really changed drastically. From Bruce’s first year to this fourth year, it’s a totally different room and it’s drastically improved.”

On what part of how last season ended still lingers for him

“Nothing. Until I get asked about it, talking about the Patriots. Last year is last year. This is a different team. There’s no lingering. I’m focused on today.”

On how he was able to get over last season

“You just do. You just move on. You start working on what you need to improve on, and preparing for what’s ahead, not what’s behind.”

On whether it’s easy to move on

“There’s no other choice.”

On how much it helps to have gone against Arizona’s defense in training camp in preparation for New England’s defensive scheme

“It’s really a different scheme so there are not a ton of similarities. I really don’t think much of what we saw in camp going into this game. You kind of go through catalogues of different coverages just because we’re going to see a number of different coverages. There is some similar stuff that our defense does, but really we don’t use much of what we did in camp to prepare for this game.”

On whether he still feels like he has plenty to prove as a quarterback

“Every year. Absolutely. Absolutely. You have to. You have to re-prove yourself every year as a quarterback, or any position, in this league.”

On whether he’s called on Chandler Jones for any insight into New England’s defense

“I’ve asked him a couple things.”

On whether what he’s asked Jones has been helpful

“We’ll talk Monday.”

On whether he thinks that the two preseason interceptions he threw that were returned for touchdowns were bad luck

“Yeah, two plays that you learn from and you move on. Guys made a pretty good play on both balls and we learned from it and moved forward.”

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