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All-Access with Carson Palmer: Talking recovery from ACL injury

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer stopped to chat with the media Thursday at the team’s Tempe training facility.

Palmer was there to discuss his recovery from the ACL injury he suffered in a Nov. 9 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Here is some of the best of what the quarterback had to say:

“Hello everybody. Sorry I’m late. I was just getting a tour of the new facility. (Reporter: “How does it look?”) Awesome — I can’t wait. It’s come a long way. I’ve been here, but I haven’t been here every day. It’s coming up fast. Looks like it’s not too far away, and I was just talking to a couple of guys that have been in there, talking to some of the guys in there working. It’s going to be first-class. I can’t wait. It’s going to be awesome.”

On how he is coming along

“I’m coming along great. I’m three and a half, almost three and a half months out of surgery. I’m doing great. You get the, ‘Are you ahead of schedule or are you behind schedule?’ Going through this twice, there’s ahead of schedule, and then there’s professional athlete ahead of schedule or behind schedule. I think that gets kind of blown out of proportion. I’m going to be ready to rock and roll by the season, and I’m definitely going to be ready by that, definitely going to be ready for camp and shooting to be getting reps in our mandatory mini, and hopefully in some of the OTA practices.”

On if he has done anything different in his rehab to speed up the recovery process

“Nothing different. I think things have changed so fast in the medical field from going through this in 2006 and now 2015. There are some things that they don’t do anymore. There are some things that studies have come out on and they’ve said this is actually hindering your process. There are some things that they would never think of doing anymore that they do back then. You just do it, because that’s what everybody says. The research and the data and all those things have changed so fast, because the medical field is always changing and progressing. There are some different techniques, I think, some of the things that I’m doing but nothing drastic.”

On if he is running

“I’ve been running. I’ve been running for two weeks now, three weeks.”

On if he is on the table still

“I’m squatting and leg pressing and pulling sleds. I’ve moved on from the table and progressed from there. I’m pretty close to being able to just do the normal workout.”

On his confidence level being high

“I feel great. I’m being constantly slowed down. You feel so good that you think you are ready for everything. That’s something that I learned the first time going through this is you really have to listen to people around you. I think I’m ready to go out and do everything and I’m not. I know I’m not deep down. You just feel good and you want to do more and more. You are coming off of surgery and crutches, a brace, and then all these things that you just want to jump into things and you have to slow yourself down or have somebody slow you down.”

On where he is with the strength test in comparison with his other knee

“They actually don’t do that. They have this machine, I forget what it’s called now, but it gauges the percentages of strength in each muscle and they actually don’t do that anymore because they found that it’s bad for the patella tendon. Don’t do that. I’m not far off as far as strength is concerned. The last thing that comes is the bulk and the size and the mass of the muscle and the muscles in the leg. I’m not far off as far as percentages are concerned.”

On what a typical week is like for him

“Typical week now — I’m in rehab Monday through Friday, get in at like 8:15, 8:30, get done about 12:45, I got here at 1:00, so like 12:50. Monday, Wednesday, Friday are run days, hard run days, agility days. Tuesday and Thursday are heavy lifting days. Every day is for four to five hours. I try to do more of the position specific, more functional movement stuff that is directly related to playing the quarterback position as far as rehab or strength stuff.”

On when the negative emotion flipped and he became excited for the next season

“That’s a good question. It took me a little while to get over. It takes you a little while to get over and then the season goes on, and we finish the way we did. All those emotions – the what-if game you try not to play. All that goes and then you have surgery and then you are in a boot, or you are in a cast and on crutches. You have to start walking slowly and then start barely walking steps upstairs. It took a long time to just get out of that funk you get in just because you have surgery and you are a month out of surgery and you just want to go run. You want to sweat, but you can’t because you have stitches in your knee and there are infection concerns and all these things. Really until I started being able to sweat and work out again and feel like I am training for football as opposed to just going in and doing leg extensions, calf raises and some things that seem monotonous or silly at the time. The last month or so really has been fun again, because I’ve been lifting weights and getting ready for 2015.”

On what the upside is to practicing before training camp

“I’m a rep guy. I’ve always tried to take every single rep or have taken every single rep. I don’t need to anymore, but that’s the way I have been my entire life. That’s something that is his job to do, because I always going to say, ‘Yeah, I’m good. Let’s go.’ That’s on Bruce’s plate and our training staff and Tom Reed and those guys. They do a great job. They will be very on top of it, I’m sure. That’s not my job. My job is to perform and get better and to work and be in the huddle with these guys as much as I can and I’m going to be in there as much as I can. It’s their job to pull me out, slow me down or hold me back, whatever that may be.”

On if he can throw

“I’m throwing every day. I throw five days a week right now.”

On how difficult it was to watch the team in the playoffs without him

“That’s the toughest part of this sport is injuries and not being able to play — whether it’s not playing because you are out on the street and a team won’t sign you or not playing because you are injured. That’s one of the toughest parts. I think that was a lesson I learned having the knee injury years back is you can’t play the what-if game or the coulda-woulda-shoulda game. You can’t do it, because at the end of the season there are 31 other teams that are doing that, and there’s only one team that’s content. Everyone else is playing the what-if game. The team that lost in the Super Bowl or the team that was in the Divisional Round, whatever it may be — you can’t do that. You‘ll keep yourself up at night and drive yourself crazy. You just have to move past it and take care of each day. One of the things that I’ve learned and loved learning from Bruce is…one of his biggest things is he walks into the meeting room every day during practice or during the season and says, ‘All you can control is today and handle today’s business.’ Playing that what-if game and thinking back on years past or whatever it may be, you are just going to drive yourself nuts doing that.”

On how much his last knee injury and rehab has helped in this recovery process

“A lot more than I expected. You think of something that happened 10 years ago, and you have very vague memories, but then you put yourself in the same exact everything and a lot of things come back to you that you had forgotten about. There’s been so many times that I have thought of, ‘Well, did it feel like this last time or did I do this at this point last time?’ There are so many of those things that come up that you completely forgot about it and you have never thought about until three weeks ago or a month and a half ago and I hadn’t thought about it since 2008. I’ve learned a lot and as I’ve gotten older and been in this league for a longer time, I’ve realized how important all the things you go through and all the lessons you learn as a young guy or the middle point in your career, whatever it may be.”

On if he’s at a point in his recovery where he has a set timetable or if it’s still a wait-and-see

“There are certain things, and the physical therapists and different people, the doctors and these people that have come together and done these studies, there’s a certain place you want to be at nine months, there’s a certain place you want to be at 12 months and so on. I don’t even know what month it is when that mandatory minicamp is, but I’m shooting for that. That’s my goal, and like I said, hopefully at some point some of the OTA practices. Until we get there, I don’t know, but I’m shooting to get some reps at some of those practices. Nine months will be training camp and I’ll be ready for that.”

On if he’s in Bruce Arians’ ear trying to convince him he’ll be ready for minicamp

“No, I think he has a certain level of trust with me. He’s also going to be talking to Tom Reed and everybody else on the training staff and see exactly what they think. Like I said, my mindset is go-go-go and it’s their job, that’s actually what the training staff is to do, and they’re going to do a good job holding me back or pushing me, whatever it may be.”

On his feelings about the quality of the team next season

“As good as I’ve been on, and we’re only going to get better next week I think. Just the trust and faith that you have in Steve (Keim) and his whole crew, and Bruce (Arians), to bring in the right guys for the right spots, because we have a good group and all they try to do is add every year. They’ve done a good job since Steve and Bruce have been together. The sky’s the limit. My expectations are very high that we’re going to get even better next week.”

On how encouraging it is to have Larry Fitzgerald back for two more years

“I’m as excited as anybody. Obviously, everybody in the Valley and in the state is excited to see Larry back, especially back for two more. It’s great.”

On if he was hard to be around when he was in the funk he mentioned earlier

“Yeah, actually my wife brought that up. We had a date night last week or two weeks ago and she brought that up, and I quickly changed the subject. She reminded me of some different things that had happened that, when you’re in that funk you just kind of, things just kind of fly right over the top of your head. Some things flew past me that I needed to apologize for, and I did.”

On if he’s had any lingering effects from his shoulder injury last year

“Shoulder has been great. Everything has been great.”

On if the Cardinals have talked to him about his contract and restructuring

“Yeah, I did that maybe a month ago, restructured and changed some things for salary cap reasons.”

On if his belief that this team can do something special adds to the motivation in trying to get back

“Oh no doubt. You can play in this league a long time and just not play on very good teams. There are a lot of guys that come in the league and don’t ever win a Super Bowl and don’t ever have those runs. Just getting an opportunity to be on a team that you know can make a run is exciting. It’s exciting in January, February, March and April, going up into training camp. There are a lot of guys that live in the area that play on this team and are here full-time. There’s a bunch of guys I see every single day, and we talk about it every single day. Just seeing Tyrann (Mathieu) this morning and talking about our…just different things that come up, we know we have a shot. There are a lot of teams that don’t. There are a lot of teams that are thinking about 2016, 17, 18, ‘Maybe we’ll do this, maybe we’ll do that,’ but this is an exciting time to be on this team. It’s an exciting time to try to make this 53-man roster come August, because you know that the right pieces are in the right places, a good mix of old guys, good mix of young guys, good mix of really talented guys, good mix of great football players, great leaders; it’s just a really good group of guys. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of things to figure out, but we’ll be ready for it.”

On where they most need to improve on offense

“Everywhere. Going back and watching us again for the second time, everywhere, third down; I think if there’s one thing you noticed about us offensively is there’s some really good stuff and some really bad stuff. There are some really good streaks of a game or a third down just this week or a third down these two weeks, and then it was not good these two weeks; kind of streaky, hot and cold, hit or miss. Now that you’re looking back, that’s great. There’s great stuff to study. There’s great stuff to learn from. We’ll get in here and watch film with these young guys, see the good and see the bad. When you see yourself do it, you know you can do it, and there’s that confidence that you get from that. The best teams do it every week. The teams that win the Super Bowl are great on third down, in the red zone, four-minute, whatever it may be, short yardage, they do it every week. That’s where we aspire to be and that’s where we can be, because we’ve done it for a couple weeks. We just need to figure out why we didn’t do it for a week or two weeks here and there.”

On if there will be more pressure on the offense because there are questions on defense

“I hope so. I enjoy that part of it, that challenge of it, but that’s what we were saying last year I think. There was all the talk about losing Karlos Dansby and what are we going to do, and then we came out and were pretty good on defense last year. We expect to be pretty good on defense this year. But, I kind of like going into a season thinking, alright we might have to score 35 or we might have to score X to be able to beat these teams. It’s a great challenge. It’s a great way to go into an offseason, because it puts a lot of pressure on you and you know what you expect of yourself and expect of the guys around you.”