GLENDALE, Ariz. — Friday afternoon, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he had no idea who his starting quarterback would be Sunday when his team hosted the Washington Redskins.
Ultimately, the nod went to Carson Palmer after he was able to do enough before the game to convince the coaches he could be effective.
“He practiced pretty well Friday,” Arians said after his team earned a 30-20 victory Sunday. “We knew with one more treatment that he should get better and that he wasn’t going to get worse. I thought Friday he was capable of doing everything, but I still didn’t see some of the velocity and then pre-game he was all jacked up.
“I knew that some adrenaline was going to kick in also, so we made that decision pre-game.”
It was a good decision.
Palmer, who had not played since Week 1 due to a nerve injury in his right shoulder, completed 28-of-44 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s win. He was sacked one time and for the most part did not look like a player who had missed roughly a month of action.
“Not physically,” Palmer said when asked if he was limited in any way. “Physically I felt good. I just need reps. I need work. I need to throw a bunch just to get my arm strong again because it’s definitely weak.”
Palmer said the only way to increase his arm strength would be to keep throwing, and assuming his nerve stays awake, that should not be an issue. However, he admitted he’s not in the clear yet with regards to his recovery, and will continue to do treatment for a while.
“From the get go, this has been very unpredictable,” he said. “It’s still that way.”
But for now, he’s back, and while Drew Stanton did a solid job in his absence, there is something to be said for having Palmer back in the fold.
“Carson looked great,” receiver John Brown said. “He just did what he usually does. He got back to himself.”
“We were happy to see him back in there,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald added. “He was happy to be back. It was great to see him have the success he had today.”
Palmer certainly had plenty of chances. Arians said the team figured this would be a game where they aired it out, and Palmer added he knew this wasn’t going to be a game where the team threw just 18 passes.
“Forty-four attempts is probably right on par with what Bruce wants to do,” he said.
The veteran admitted he is not quite 100 percent, as there were a couple throws he tried to make Sunday afternoon but couldn’t. He said he had a difficult time gauging how hard he needed to throw the ball sometimes, which is an issue that should dissipate as he continues to progress in his recovery.
But for a player who may not have been 100 percent, Palmer played well. And, perhaps even more important, he seems to have escaped the afternoon no worse for wear. Arians said he would not have started Palmer if he was going to be limited in any way, and the QB himself was able to alleviate some concerns about how the nerve would handle the beating that comes with playing quarterback.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to respond to compression and getting landed on by a 300-pound guy,” he said. “It happened a couple times and it felt great.”