It might have been a preseason drive in early August, but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer looked to be in midseason form Saturday night.
In the team’s opening drive against the visiting Houston Texans, Palmer took the Cardinals down the field with relative ease, completing all five of his passes for 84 yards and a touchdown to Pro Bowl wideout Larry Fitzgerald.
“Just everyone’s confidence is so different than it was last year,” Palmer said of the offense’s continuity. “There’s not that half a second of unsureness if that’s a word in the back of your mind right before the ball gets snapped. That little bit of timidness where you’re not quite sure which way to step or what the adjustment is post-snap. All that stuff is gone. The confidence level is very high.”
On the drive, Palmer connected with five different receivers, including a 38-yard strike to Rob Housler and a 25-yard toss to John Brown.
Second-year receiver Jaron Brown also hauled in a 10-yard pass for a first down inside the red zone before the former Heisman Trophy winner finished off the trip with a seven-yard throw to Fitzgerald.
Palmer’s precision helped the Cardinals overcome two early offensive line mistakes — right guard Jonathan Cooper was badly beat by defensive end J.J. Watt on a seven-yard sack and center Ted Larsen committed an illegal hands to the face penalty to negate a 13-yard touchdown pass to John Carlson.
“We overcame a couple of big holes we put ourselves in, so it was just good to get that first drive out,” said Palmer. “It was nice to see some of those young guys make plays.”
After Arizona’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, Palmer was replaced by back-up quarterback Drew Stanton.